Author admits shameless hoax!

Jasper Bark comes clean about his “discovered” mystery horror comics…

"Sign of the Crimes" by R. L. Carver - Page 7

So, about six weeks ago, I wrote an article for Downthetubes, asking for your help to learn more about an obscure, pre-codehorror comic artist who signed themselves R. L. Carver. I even included a seven page story, called Sign of the Crimes”, attributed to R. L. Carver, that I claimed I’d found, in a collection of printer’s proofs, in the attic of a departed friend.

Now it’s time for me to come clean and ’fess up. 

The thing is, readers of this blog are highly media savvy. You immediately expressed doubts about the lettering and the colours. Were they digitally created? You wanted to know. Someone also questioned the writing, which they felt was more ‘decompressed’ than would have been the case in the mid 50s. Many noted the article was posted in April, that month of fools and hoaxes.

But the matter was confused by the other examples of Carver’s work that came to light. Tripwire, the UK’s longest running comics magazine ran a story on their website with another story attributed to Carver called ‘Killer Caboose’, which you can read here.

Diversions of the Groovy Kind, a blog that specialises in posting bronze age comics, run by the comics writer Lloyd Smith, also posted a story supposedly by Carver. This time it was a black and white horror comic purportedly from an unprinted issue of Stanley’s magazine Chillingwhich you can read here.

The legendary Michael T. Gilbert praised Sign of the Crimes”, even if he wasn’t taken in. And the equally legendary Lew Stringer wondered what nefarious scheme I was cooking up. He spoke for many readers who expressed the same interest. 

Well, the truth is, R. L. Carver is one of the central characters in Draw You In, a trilogy of horror novels that I’ve written. The first novel in the trilogy, Draw You In, Vol 1 – Collector’s Item, was published by Crystal Lake Entertainment on Friday June 7th. The next two volumes will come out on June 21st and July 5th, respectively.

So, was this whole project simply a cheap publicity stunt? Not entirely. I did hope to grab your attention, but I had other reasons for doing this.

Draw You In explores the history of horror comics, from the pre-code 1950s to the present day. It also reveals the secret, shadow-history of the United States. But another of its themes is the way that reality and fiction often bleed into one another, especially in the world of comics. There’s always been a tension between the ‘real’ and the ‘fictional’ in comics. Whether it was editor, Julius Schwartz or writer, Grant Morrison appearing as themselves in comics like The Flash #179 and Animal Man #26, or artist David Lloyd’s Guy Fawkes mask, from V for Vendetta, becoming a potent symbol of protest for everything from the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ to the ‘Occupy Wall St’ movement.

As this is a theme of the three novels, I invited many real life comic creators to appear as characters in the novels. These included comic legends, Walt and Louise Simonson. Both creators not only appeared as themselves, they wrote their own dialogue and actions and interacted with the main characters, affecting the narrative in ways I couldn’t control. Grant Morrison has spoken about putting on a ‘Fiction Suit’ and stepping into our favourite stories. That’s effectively what we managed to do with Draw You In and I don’t think it’s ever been done, quite this way, in a novel before.

As well as bringing real life characters into the fiction of Draw You In, I wanted to continue the experiment by letting the fictional characters escape out into the real world. The lead character of Draw You In is a comics creator called Linda Corrigan. She has just written and illustrated a gothic novella that you can read for free by signing up for my mailing list here.

The plot of Draw You In follows an FBI investigation into the life and work of a forgotten horror comic artist called R. L. Carver. A misunderstood genius who never received the acclaim he deserved. I wanted Carver to step off the pages of my novels and into the real world, if only for a few weeks. I wanted readers to wonder if Carver actually existed, if only for a brief moment.

So, I worked with the creative team of my graphic novel Bloodfellas to bring Carver and his creations to life. I have to thank artist Mick Trimble, colourist Aljoša Tomić and letterer Mindy Hopkins for going above and beyond in this metafictional experiment. If you liked what you read that’s probably down to their contributions. If it annoyed you, for whatever reason, then I guess that’s on me.

Even if you weren’t taken in for a second, I still hope you enjoyed reading R. L. Carver’s work. I also hope I’ve intrigued you enough to check out the first volume of the Draw You In trilogy, which you can buy here.


 Can you disappear so completely that only one person remembers you existed?

That’s what comics creator Linda Corrigan asks, when her editor, disappears without a trace. Drawn into an FBI investigation by Agent McPherson, Linda and comics historian Richard Ford unearth a chilling link to the forgotten comic artist R. L. Carver, whose work might just hold the key to a series of mysterious disappearances.

As they explore Carver’s life, they uncover the secret history of horror comics, the misfits, madcaps and macabre masters who forged an industry, frightened a generation and felt the heat of the Federal Government. They also stumble on the shadow history of the United States on a road trip that veers into the nation’s dark underbelly, where forbidden knowledge and forgotten lore await them.

Described as “Kavalier and Clay meets Clive Barker,” Draw You In Vol.1 – Collector’s Item is the first in a mind-bending trilogy of novels. It contains stories within stories that explore horror in all its subgenres, from quiet to psychological horror, from hardcore to cosmic horror.

Experience the epic conspiracy thriller that redefines the genre for a new generation.

Draw You In Vol.1 – Collector’s Item is the fourth book in the Bark Bites Horror series.

Bark Bites Horror is a spine-tingling series that takes the horror genre to a whole new level. Get ready for a Goosebumps for grown-ups and a sexed-up Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! This is your favourite new obsession. These are the terror tales you’ve been waiting your whole life to read.

This is Horror 2.0, re-gened, re-tooled and recreated for a fearless new audience! Think you’ve seen everything in horror? Think again. Bark Bites takes you places you’ve never been and shows you sights few mortal eyes would dare behold.

Don’t be the only weird kid on your block to miss out!

Categories: Books, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds

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