Friday, November 19, 2010
Crow Toes Quarterly
I recently finished Issue 15 of Crow Toes Quarterly and I really wish I had stumbled upon this magazine 15 issues ago. There is definate delight found in every issue, story and poem. You would be hard press to dismiss this magazine as average or amateurish. Indeed, there is quite a craft here.
It is a publication which aims for children's horror, but which is easily accepted by adults as well. Their latest endeavor features a beautiful mix of the dark, the strange, the unsettling, the morbid, all with a child-like innocence.
The issue begins (aside from the Narrator's introduction) with Rebecca Huggins' story Waiting, where we are introduced to an isolated boy living in a grand mansion, filled with an even grander library. Yet, despite his isolation, he is quite content with his life, living vicariously through his own imagination. Until one day a stranger stands outside his window. A stranger who happens to enjoy hot cocoa and wishes to take the boy on an incredible journey. A journey we all take at some point in time.
The next story stays true to the uncanny, reminding us that Halloween is not only fun and sugary, but frightening and bitter. The time Between, by Sherry Isaac, reminds us that at the stroke of midnight anything can happen, especially on Halloween. For three young children playing in an attic, dividing the rewards from trick-or-treating, midnight becomes far too strange when one of them discovers an old pocket-watch. Never mess with a watch, especially an old watch, when it's trapped behind blue goo. Further more, though Halloween is fun and sugary, make sure adults always check the candy for those frightening, bitter pieces.
Next, The Skeleton Doll, by Caspian Gray, is a bone-chilling tale about a mother and her daughter. Her dead daughter . . . lying in a forest. This story was my personal favorite as it teetered on the edge of the macabre with a rather sad, yet beautiful rendition of Pinocchio. An old woman who lives in cabin alone, having recently suffered from the demise of her young daughter, goes to great lengths to restore her happiness. But just how far is she willing to go? Having enjoyed her life while her daughter was alive there's no reason she can't enjoy her life while her daughter is dead. Though, in order to enjoy her life, her daughter must remain with her one way or another. With a little thread, a little stuffing, happiness can be found.
Then there's the flash piece by Grier Jewell, The Hand of Holland Rogers: Is It True? This calls to question the things that keep us awake at night. When you can't sleep, what do wonder about? Do you ever ponder something is lurking in the corners of your dark room? Do you curl under the sheets, seeking protection from the night? What was that sound? Is that a finger touching your feet? Or should you keep such thoughts out of your mind and try to go to sleep? But exactly how can you go to sleep when you feel a hand touching your leg? But that's just nonsense . . . isn't it? (Personally, I've always envisioned shark fins circling my bed.)
Last, we're treated with a witty, disgusting tale about a child who pieces themself together. Literally. Brains Coming Out of My Ears, by Anne E. Johnson, is a vivid story about the rewards and misfortunes of having all the brains. But when you have all the brains, imagine all the things you could accomplish. Imagine how powerful you'd be! Especially with an extra set of eyes in the back of your head!
The magazine doesn't stop there however. Equally pleasant, and equally dark, are three poems.
Ice Cream Truck, by Shawn Riopelle, takes us through life as it centers around that little, flat piece of wood commonly found in Popsicles, and doctor offices.
A Prickling On My Shoulder, by M Sullivan, is a whimsical, avant-garde poem about that funny feeling you sometimes get.
Spider, by Matt Dennison, reminds us that those eight-legged little terrors are always there.
Last, but not least, the magazine is also packed with beautiful illustrations, reminding us that the uncanny is indeed a spectacle worth looking at. For just a buck-fifty, Crow Toes Quarterly, Issue 15 is available for download in a PDF format from their website: http://www.crowtoesquarterly.com/. Filled with all things cute and horrible, this magazine is a must for any zine-fans looking for something a little different, a little innocent, a little odd, a little playful, and all around a little delightful.