Thursday, December 19, 2019

The CHS Holiday Gift Guide is finally here!

I'm here to make your holiday season spooky. 

If you’re shopping for a special someone or just want to treat yourself to something twisted, gothic and maybe even a little disturbing for Christmas, I've got you covered. We're enduring one of our perioidic dry spells when it comes to Dark Shadows, but that doesn't mean we've got to fast. Below is a list of all sorts of spooky gifts, ranging from magazines, print and audio books, and even a little original artwork by yours truely.

Just about anybody can give a Christmas gift at Christmas. But who among you has the courage to give a Christmas gift in February? How about March? If you're an iconoclast who walks to a beat of their own drummer, you can get that special someone one of the new editions of the Dark Shadows novels by Marilyn Ross scheduled for release early next year. Both are available for pre-order at Amazon HERE. Dare to be different!

While we're on the subject: It's hard to believe that the first audiobook adaption of the Marilyn Ross paperbacks by Marilyn Ross was released just six months ago. Since then 11 more have hit the market, all of them read by original cast member Kathryn Leigh Scott. Number 13 in the series, Barnabas Collins and the Mysterious Ghost, is scheduled for release Jan. 13. At this rate the entire 32-book series will be available by the end of 2020.

Here's a list of the audio books available now on Amazon:

#1 Dark Shadows
#2 Victoria Winters
#3 Strangers at Collins House
#4 The Mystery of Collinwood
#5 The Curse of Collinwood
#6 Barnabas Collins
#7 The Secret of Barnabas Collins
#8 The Demon of Barnabas Collins
#9 The Foe of Barnabas Collins
#10 The Phantom and Barnabas Collins
#11 Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock
#12 The Peril of Barnabas Collins

Big Finish has been producing original Dark Shadows audiodramas since (checks notes) ... 2006?! The most recent, a third volume of the bonkers Tony & Cassandra Mysteries series, was released in October. If you're looking for something a little more traditional, though, I'd suggest Dark Shadows: Blood & Fire, a 50th anniversary special that dives deep into the mythology of The Phoenix, the television show's first supernatural villain. The double CD set will absolutely NOT arrive in time for Christmas, but a digital download is immediately available with the purchase. (Or you can just get someone the digital version and bypass the physical edition entirely.) You can find Blood & Fire at Big Finish HERE.

Patrick McCray has been writing The Dark Shadows Daybook feature for this website since 2016. While recently talking about the possibility of publishing some kind of print edition of the Daybook, the two of us crunched the numbers: in three years he's written 237,925 words for the Daybook. That's 586 pages of text at 11 pt. type ... without any kind of formatting. It's the equivalent of a novel, for which he's been paid a whopping zero dollars.

What does this have to do with anything? Lots and lots of people have become accustomed to getting written content for free. News, research, critical analysis, movie reviews ... the value of many forms of communication has plummted during the last decade. It's almost impossible to get anyone to leave their "free" Facebook bubble. Example: When I've suggested that folks subscribe to the new incarnation of Fangoria it's been met with complaints about the cost. "$80 for four issues? Good LAWD!" someone will reply, most likely a person that wouldn't subscribe even if the price was $20 a year. If this observation pisses you off, guess what? You might be that person!

If you're still reading this, I can't recommend Fangoria enough. It always feels like Christmas whenever a new issue arrives in my mailbox. Publishing in the 21st century treats its content with a scattershot sort of desperation -- trying to be everything to everyone in every medium -- but Fangoria holds its content sacred. You won't find the stories printed in its pages anywhere online. It's a pure experience.

You can pick up a subscription to Fangoria for a loved one at

Here's the official logline for the band Wolfmen of Mars: "Making music that combines the electronic analog sounds of the 70s-80s and mixing them with heavy grooves. A soundtrack for late night driving or space travel." What that summary leaves out is that the Wolfmen are very, very cool. I've been a fan for a while now and the lack of Dark Shadows merch currently available gives me the chance to finally brag about them here. You can find most of their catalog online at Bandcamp, and the rest of it on Amazon and Burning Witch Records.

Damn, I love Shudder. There are a lot of streaming services available but this is the only one that feels legitimately curated. Too many streaming channels just feel like a bunch of stuff that's just available, the product on the unstoppable ebb and flow of mass media releases. Shudder actually puts thought into their catalog, going so far as to invite people like Kirk Hammett of Metallica and Barbara Crampton as guest curators. You can get a week of Shudder for free, after which it's just $5.99 a month. Get started here:

Hey, look! It's me! (At least it's my work, anyway.) Earlier this year I had the honor of designing the poster for a special Dark Shadows event for the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival. I've got two versions of the poster available: one version with typography and one that's just the art. You can get 11x17 prints of them both at I'll even sign them for you, if you like. (Warning: My handwriting is shockingly awful.)

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