I know. It’s too damned early for that.
But whatever. Samantha Blazes LIVES!
Once upon a time, there was an anthology called Hastur Pussycat, Kill! Kill! It was such a cool idea, and many people I like and respect worked very hard on it. But even a good thing can go awry, and the anthology never really got released.
Nor did we ever get paid.
But our intrepid editor, Mikey Huyck, did manage to scavenge us all contributor copies. I discovered that the layout was so appalling it looked as if the dude had dropped acid, X, and speed all at once before touching the keyboard. Or whatever it was he used. Maybe it was a hammer.
I tried to sell “Samantha Blazes: Psychic Detective of L.A.” as a reprint for years. No takers. It was way too long. It was too silly. There was always something that prevented either magazines or anthologies from taking it. I polished it, I added more action, I even changed Samantha’s hairstyle. Nothin’.
And then I went to the Los Angeles HP Lovecraft Film Festival, which was run by my good friend Aaron Vanek. I watched the movies, loving every minute of it, and then left wondering, “Where are the chicks?”
There was only one woman to speak of in all of the interviews and creative credits — Caitlin Kiernan. And there was very little humor except when Neil was describing Lovecraft. (The exact words, of course, I can’t remember. But it was funny, trust me.)
When I left the theater, I was determined that Samantha had to reemerge. But how? I did remember one thing Neil said: something about how Lovecraft’s mythos were something to be read, added to and passed on to the greater world. And Samantha certainly is an add-on. When we first see her, she’s in the kitchen of an Italian family, holding up a spatula upon which she’s drawn an Elder sign in lipstick, trying to press the image upon the forehead of a recently resurrected Grandpa to send him back to the grave.
She was a sort of Buffy before I knew who Buffy was — I never even saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer until last year* — with her own “sign” to bear.
I set about editing the story. And, dear Elder Gods, it needed editing. I guess that’s inevitable when it’s something one wrote 9 years ago. And then I meekly asked the great Pete Von Sholly to make a cover for me, not feeling worthy of such a great artist’s work. But he read the new-and-improved Samantha and seemed excited to get started. So — YAY! Pete asked me to model in some photos to help with Samantha’s portrait, which I did. Et voila!
Weirdly enough, right in the middle of all this, I was contacted about contributing to an upcoming Cthulhu anthology. The editor read Samantha but predictably it didn’t quite work for his more noirish project.
Which was okay, because here she is: brave, beautiful and Byakhee-kicking.
I hope you enjoy it.
*Okay, a friend showed me the “musical episode” several years ago. I had no idea what to make of it.