"Run-of-the-mill" seems like a modestly accurate way to describe myself in terms of horror fandom. In certain respects I find that valuable, since ideally I can make an appeal to those like myself, to those who may be testing the waters, and hopefully to the hardcore horror fans as well. (And I sincerely encourage feedback, especially from the latter.) It wasn't until several years ago, the present time of this writing being December of '09 to give perspective, that the genre genuinely appealed to me and I owe all that to the film adaptation of Stephen King's 'IT'. After that, it was a slow and steady progression that grew into watching more Stephen King film adaptations, then into watching general horror films. In more recent years it's branched from solely films into different mediums, namely: comics (comic books, manga, graphic novels, webcomics, etc.), purely written literature, and different games.

But let's get to the point, shall we? The Darkley Niche is something I've constructed after the comic-in-progress that a friend and myself plan on self-publishing, an anthology of short horror stories much in the same vein as 'Tales from the Crypt' and similar titles. The series centers around a faceless persona we've affectionately dubbed Alan Darkley, the Niche's namesake, and a cast of storytellers whose tales fall within particular subgenres and sister genres of horror. This site is the drawing board, if you will, where everything posted is either a form of research or a roughing out of ideas. It's all relevant in some fashion. By exploring these different horror stories and their mediums a better understanding and influence of the genre, as well as inspiration, can be put into the comic. Even if you have no personal interest in the project, perhaps you can glean something from the reviews and the like. And if nothing else, the Niche will work to serve my own purposes.

Be sure to browse over the column of banners below if you're looking for posts on a particular topic. (And at the very bottom of the blog, if you would like to consult the complete listing of post labels.) Otherwise, scroll down past them to get to the most recent articles. Likewise, refer to the right side for our latest tweets.

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

About Myself

My photo
Well, here's yours truly. The name's Drew, in case you were wondering. The Niche is my personal site, while the comic-in-progress is a partnered effort with Don, a lifelong friend of mine. We collaborate on the stories, but my partner's the writer in the outfit while I am the illustrator. This is currently little more than a side project, but we hope to make something of it.

artwork by yours truly

artwork and artist features

movies, short films, TV, webisodes, etc.

frightful films for your year-round festivities

book reviews: consult the niche's necronomicon

comic-related news and reviews

zed in the head randomness

Monday, May 30, 2011

ZotB: CDC on the zompocalypse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted this online article on May 16th, 2011, regarding the inevitable zombie epidemic. Writer Ali S. Khan makes use of the zombie genre's popularity as a means to encourage families and individuals to plan for emergencies, whether or not they involve the walking dead. The following is the unabridged CDC article in its entirety.

Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

A Brief History of Zombies

We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident Evil), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.

A couple dressed as zombies - Danny Zucco and Sandy Olsson from the movie Grease walking in the annual Toronto Zombie Walk.
In movies, shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Scholzman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living Dead and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. The Zombie Survival Guide identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASA Venus probe (as in Night of the Living Dead), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles and rabies.

The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!

Better Safe than Sorry

So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

Some of the supplies for your emergency kit.
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

Family members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and one farther away.
  1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
  2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
  3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
  4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.
Never Fear – CDC is Ready

Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared.
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).

To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:

To learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency visit:

To download a badge like the one above that you can add to your social networking profile, blog, website, or email signature visit:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

holiday addition: National Nurses Week

Occasionally, we come across an observance that we weren't previously familiar with. This time around it's National Nurses Week, which encompasses a number of holidays meant to honor this medical profession, namely: National Nurses Day (May 6th), National Student Nurses Day (May 8th), and the birthday of Florence Nightingale (May 12th). With that in mind, we're making National Nurses Week our latest addition to the Darkley Niche's Seasonal Horror Calendar.

May 6th-12th

'Misery' (1990)
Best-selling novelist Paul Sheldon is caught driving home in a blizzard, ultimately crashing his car. Thankfully, former nurse and coincidental fan Annie Wilkes happens to chance upon him, taking Paul into her care in a remote house nestled in the woods. Fortunate circumstances, right? Well, not so much when this "dirty bird" doesn't write a new novel the way she likes.
Additional Nurses Week suggestions:
- 'Silent Hill' (2006; light-sensitive nurses with bandaged heads)
- 'Planet Terror' (2007; anesthesiologist Dakota Block and her "three friends," though she's actually a doctor)
- 'Sick Nurses' (2007; Thai horror film about nurses haunted by a past victim)
- 'The Uninvited' (2009; personal nurse turned stepmother)
- 'Dawn of the Dead' (1978; nurse zombie at the mall)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Late Bloomer

"We all saw it sprawled across the blackboard the second we stepped into Ms. Lovecraft's class... It's wingspan reached from one end of the room to the other, hovering above our heads as if it were about to pounce. It's.. chalk scrawled claws looking ready to grab up an unsuspecting student and fly away..."
Written and directed, respectively, by Clay McLeod Chapman and Craig Macneill
, 'Late Bloomer' was among the short films selected in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and with good reason. The success of the short is in its ability to personify the progression of confusion, repulsion, anxiety, then obsession of a seventh-grader boy on the precipice of puberty as through the perspective of H.P. Lovecraft, were he perhaps the student during Sex Ed. However, since the schoolteacher is already named after the author, we'll just refer to this nameless student as Randolph Carter. If you got that reference, you likely will catch the allusions made in those classmates that are named. (WARNING: spoilers ahead and sexual content)

Jimmy Pickman, "Pickman's Model"

Norween Dunwich, "The Dunwich Horror"

Larissa Innsmouth, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"

'Late Bloomer' opens with the echoing twang of guitar strings, accompanied by the reflecting, nervous narration of an apparently adult version of our adolescent protagonist. You can't help but sympathize at least slightly for the perplexed students, as Jimmy Pickman voices aloud their collective confusion, asking, "What is that ungodly thing?" to which our lead replies, "It looks like an octopus." In response, their instructor authoritatively etches the name above its "dome-shaped head" in bold, chalk letters: VAGINA. As is often the case in classrooms, Ms. Lovecraft tells her pupils to repeat this foreign word.
"I shuddered at the sound it's name made in my mouth, whispering it with the rest of the students. It seemed to seep out from over my tongue, the syllables all soft and moist as if it had just drudged itself up from some sordid portion of my stomach, buried for centuries under the muck of my meals, rising up towards my teeth on a tide of bile."
As Randolph is made aware that all women are born with the namesake of that which they were "invoking" in unison, the more he notices that the girls of his class have begun to slink in their seats. Norween Dunwich in particular feverishly writes every "pagan name her high priestess called out" whilst fervently fanning her knees together. Only he seems to see that this was not some ordinary, textbook curriculum. Oh, no. This was in fact a ritual of an eldritch evil that lurked within the very female form, living amongst him and his fellows all along. As if this dawning dread-fright wasn't enough to test the sanity of a seventh grade boy, Ms. Lovecraft unveils from behind a geographical map another ancient blasphemy: "This is... THE PENIS!"

"Maybe a madhouse would be as good of any a place to save me, now. No doctor could erase this profane image from my brain forever... For I found myself staring at Him Who is Not To Be Named... the Mighty, One-Eyed Messenger! THE GOAT WITH A THOUSAND YOUNG!"
All suddenly goes black as Randolph appears in the school office of Principal Peters, the narrator pleading with the flush man in his robin egg blue suit of a foreboding metamorphosis. But the boy's words seem to fall on deaf ears as the scene transitions back to Ms. Lovecraft's classroom, his own horror now likewise engraved on every youthful face therein. It is only then that he is disjointedly aware of another set of eyes, locking onto those of Larissa Innsmouth.
"The creature hidden within her was attempting to communicate with me! It's sole mode of speech were a series of thought waves, transmitted through its clitoral antenna. Even now these beasts talked within their tombs, sending their telepathy out from beyond the cotton lining of all the girl's underwear... MmhmmMaHaHA!"
Losing his much-weakened grasp on known reality, Randolph at last descends into the dark abyss that is the reproductive system, Ms. Lovecraft's idolatry.

Visions of chaotic ecstasy ensue with instructor and fledgling adepts alike immersed in profane rites. Randolph's insane laughter aggressively gives way to guttural growls and all goes black as earlier. Consciousness slips again, bringing him once more before the desk of Principal Peters, whose bloodshot eyes only stare out from behind the sweating, fleshly mask that is his face. Looking back into that face is the calm countenance of Randolph, self-assured that his peers will eventually come to see the same revelations as he had in themselves. Not solely in conscious realization, but in physical actualization. Memory moves us one last time to Ms. Lovecraft's class to bear witness to the final horror, the reason for his presence in the principal's office.
"My pants were now crumpled up at my ankles, my hands hidden below the desktop... Strips of mother of pearl stretched along the floor, as if some slimy beast had been released from within me! The residue of its escape... shining over the linoleuuuuuummm...!"
To paraphrase The Lonely Island: "And now I'm posed in an awkward stance, 'cause I jizzed in my class!"
Here I thought that vomiting over my desk in elementary school was the worst humiliation to have happen in a classroom. That seems much more tame in comparison to this embarrassing incident in the end, but I digress. 'Late Bloomer' seamlessly blends Lovecraftian themes with those closely associated to the awkward transition into puberty, which is what makes the short so ingenious. Furthermore, the students are so thoroughly compelling in their roles that I found myself surprised with exactly how impressive their performance was. Especially when you consider my general disposition towards child actors, which is often one of dissatisfaction. I give it five out of five Ms. Lovecrafts.

On a side note, doesn't this particular scene in 'Late Bloomer' seem reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's ending to 'Psycho'? If that was intentional, it's a stroke of sheer brilliance.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, Friday

If we weren't dragging our feet metaphorically, we would surely be worn down to the kneecaps by now. Our Darkley Niche watchers are few, but regardless we appreciate the fact that we even have watchers, so our apologies for the lack of posts. We'll try to keep up on a more regular basis, perhaps on the weekends. And taking a page out of Rhonny Reaper's book, perhaps it's time we share the load a little by bringing our friend and Darkley comic co-conspirator, Don, into the Niche. After all, he's just as much a part of this concept as myself, so it only seems right and likely overdue. But we'll come back to that at a later time, after I've had an opportunity to show Don how to operate around Blogger.

Among the problems with neglecting posts, one such includes missing holidays and horror-related dates. Case in point: Friday the 13th. Well, while it isn't the thirteenth any more, it is the following Friday. So with that, here's an amusing, albeit brief, little video we were hoping that someone would have made and luckily did. Thank you, YouTube.

Also, say what you will about 'Freddy vs. Jason', Don and myself found that film to be an amusing love letter to both the franchises and certainly better than some of the sequels that preceded it. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge'. Need we say more?