Tuesday, 31 October 2017


Day 24 - I'm calling this one "Granny Smith" 

Day 25 - "Before the Storm"

"Something clambered up from the dark - a bloated blanched oval supported on myriad fleshless legs. Eyes formed in the gelatinous oval and stared at him. And he prostrated himself as he had been told, and called the horror's name - Eihort - and under the arched roof amid the nighted tunnels, the bargain was sealed"
from Before the Storm by Ramsey Campbell

Day 26 - "The Red Lodge"
"I saw something slip through the door. It was green, thin and tall. It seemed to glance back at me, and what should have been its face was a patch of soused slime..."
from The Red Lodge by HR Wakefield

Day 27 - "The Headless Horseman"
"When the spooks have a midnight jamboree
They break it up with fiendish glee
The ghosts are bad but the one that's cursed
Is the headless horseman; he's the worst
That's right, he's a fright on Halloween night!"

Day 28 - "The Return of Grimsdyke"
Peter Cushing in Tales From the Crypt 1972

Day 29 - "The Phantom of the Opera"
"He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame. His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man's skull. His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead, is not white, but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth talking about that you can't see it side-face; and the absence of that nose is a horrible thing to look at..."
from  Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux

Day 30 - "Prince of Darkness"
Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula

Day 31 - "Portrait of the Artist as a Spooky Man"

And that dear friends brings us to the end of #inktober! This was the first year I actually got it together to give it a shot, and I've had immense fun doing it. For anyone who wants to sharpen their artistic skills or, as it was in my case, revive some long dormant ones, I can highly recommend the simple exercise of doing a sketch a day. It's also a great way to experiment - I had alot of fun trying out some different styles, and while not all of them quite worked, I'm still quite pleased with the results. Certainly I shall be continuing my sketching endeavours into the future from now on! 

Sunday, 29 October 2017


Just in time for Halloween, Mr Jim Moon presents a special episode - a radio play that tells the tale of a most disturbing haunting, adapted from the classic chiller, Ghost Hunt by HR Wakefield.


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Friday, 27 October 2017

HYPNOGORIA 74 - The Origins of Halloween Part V

Continuing in our annual series on the history of the spookiest night of the year, Mr Jim Moon takes at a look Halloween in the mid-twentieth century. We talks about the works of Ray Bradbury, the horrors of EC comics, and the Disney classic retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949).

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOGORIA 74 - The Origins of Halloween Part V

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HYPNOGORIA HOME DOMAIN - Full archive, RSS feed and other useful links




Thursday, 26 October 2017

HYPNOGORIA - The Origins of Halloween: the Story So Far...

In an epic length show, Mr Jim Moon traverses the centuries in search of the origins of Halloween. Along the way we'll investigate the festival of All Hallows, the pagan rites of the Celts at Samhain, uncover the truth about trick or treating, the genesis of the jack o'lantern, and discover all manner of folk charms and rituals for Halloween night!

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - The Origins of Halloween 

It's Halloween once more, and Mr Jim Moon brings you another epic show delving into the long history of this autumnal festival. In this episode, we ransack the shelves of the Great Library of Dreams to trace the history of Halloween in popular culture, from the poems of Robert Burns, through the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Walter Scott, and into the heyday of the Victorian ghost story.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD -  The Origins of Halloween Part II 

As Halloween approaches Mr Jim Moon delves once more into the history and the mysteries of this ancient holiday. In this chapter we take a trip back to the start of the 20th century to discover how Halloween parties evolved and see how the spookiest night of the year was portrayed in the brave new worlds of radio and film. 

DIRECT DOWNLOADThe Origins of Halloween Part III 

In a bonus extra chapter this year, Mr Jim Moon uncovers the birth of the horror genre and discovers when Halloween first properly became scary! We take a look at early Halloween horrors in the pages of the pulps, and then discover how the macabre radio shows of the 1930s and 1940s would make Halloween night their own... 

DIRECT DOWNLOADThe Origins of Halloween Part IV

Continuing in our annual series on the history of the spookiest night of the year, Mr Jim Moon takes at a look Halloween in the mid-twentieth century. We talks about the works of Ray Bradbury, the horrors of EC comics, and the Disney classic retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949).

DIRECT DOWNLOADHYPNOGORIA 74 - The Origins of Halloween Part V

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Wednesday, 25 October 2017


Welcome once again dear fiends to the 'Orrible 'Ouse of Terrible Old Tat! That's it, step inside... But don't touch that! Anywho dear friends, last time we were talking of when the catalogue was king, that now almost forgotten age of non-digital home shopping, a time when with nothing more advanced than a big glossy book, a pen and a stamp or two, you could order all manner of goods to be delivered to your door. However in this pre-internet age, there were actually some items that you could only get through mail order, something their manufacturers proudly trumpeted in the marketing - "Not available in any shop!". And were these rare and difficult to obtain items any cop? Well, therein lies a tale or two... Some were very good, some very bad, and indeed, a few were ugly. However sometimes these mail-order-only goodies went beyond the parameters set by Sergio Leone, and some were just downright weird!

These days, if a show or a movie is successful, it's instantly merchandised to the proverbial hilt, with the brand being instantly licenced for everything from comics to clothes to cruet sets. And in some cases even actual hilts, well, replica swords at any rate. However in ages past, the availability of tie-in items were often sporadic, and often what was up for sale was rather eccentric. Now then, at the close of the 1970s, the most popular SF show, was one of the most popular TV shows  in Britain full stop. With Tom Baker helming the TARDIS, Doctor Who was enjoying a huge wave of popularity. And hence, somewhat surprisingly, it was only in the time of the Fourth Doctor, some ten years into the life of the hit series, that we got much in the way of proper merch. As previously discussed, it was in this jelly baby era that the first proper Doctor Who action figures appeared. Also this was the period when the Target novelisations began to fly off the shelves, and more exciting still, a weekly comic - Doctor Who Weekly - first appeared.  

Back in those pre-web days, specialised publications served a unique role. For aside from serving up content dedicated to their chosen area of interest, such magazines provided a valuable micro market for advertisers and mail order shops. Now then, around the same time, an electronics firm called Shortman Manufacturing wangled a license to produce tat for the Doctor Who brand. But the question was what? Despite its popularity, Doctor Who was always somewhat tricky to merchandise for - there weren't a host of exciting space-age vehicles like the Gerry Anderson shows, the Doctor didn't carry anything in the way of weapons that could be turned into toy guns, and he didn't wear a special outfit or costume either. In those days, even the now very toyetic sonic screwdriver wasn't used that much in the old series. Hence Shortman came up with a novel idea - how about an item that had never and would never feature in the series, but you could stick a Who logo on! Perfect!

And so the TARDIS Tuner was born! Pimped frequently in the pages of Dr Who Weekly and comics such as 2000 AD from 1978 onwards, with a full page comic strip ad, thousands of kids wondered what the hell a TARDIS TUNER was! The adverts proclaimed it was a "A TUNE IN FOR ALL TIME LORDS", but a little careful reading of the blurb revealed it was in effect a jazzed up medium wave transistor radio. Priced initially at £14.25, but later climbing up to £19.91, this seemed a bit steep for a novelty tranny even it if was a rather chunky one -  approximately 20 cm x 15 cm x 8 cm (that's approx 8" x 6" x 3" in old money). 

However powered up by 4 AA batteries (or HP7s as they were back in the day), admittedly it did do other things too! The full, if somewhat cryptic, list of features was as follows -  
  • Mind blowing volume control
  • Built in radio receiver, 
  • picks up radio 1, 2 & 3
  • ‘Laser light control switch’
  • Constant flashing laser lights
  • Radio tuner for crystal clear reception
  • Time warp bleeper control switch
  • Tough moulded matt-black casing stands up to the heaviest landings
  • Sliding door for battery supplies
Wait a minute! This had lasers?!? Take my money now!

Of course it didn't really have lasers, just some bog standard flashing lights. Now I'm not sure whether Shortman were hoping that no one would be daft enough to think the TARDIS Tuner really had lasers, or were actually daft enough to believe the blurb but conveniently also be too stupid to start legal proceedings. Either way though, to a child of the 1970s, flashing lights were very cool in themselves. Yes, I know, simpler times!  *Insert favourite old git rant of your choice here*

So what did this space-age gadget actually do? Well after literally years of idly wondering what a "Time warp bleeper control switch" did, at last the truth can be revealed! Switch 1 toggled the TARDIS Tuner  between  "Radio" or "Lights" mode. In "Radio", obviously you could listen to the radio. No Radio 4 though as this didn't pick up FM, but I'm sure that wasn't a huge deal for the nation's kids. However its in "Lights" mode where things get interesting. In this second mode, you could no longer use the radio, but instead the TARDIS Tuner can be made to emit a range of electronic noises. Well, a range of two electronic noise -  the second switch - "Switch 2" natch - allows you to chose between "Morse Warp" or "Laser Bleep". However by using the volume control you could modulate the pitch of both of these to create eerie space age oscillating tones... or just a racket to annoy everyone else in the house with at any rate! 

The TARDIS Tuner in action!

However one does wonder whether the advertisers had much faith in it as the faux strip hawking it was entitled "Doctor Who and the Turgids". Methinks someone was having a laugh there. But despite soundly horribly low tech to modern ears, and to be honest even potentially disappointing back then, quite clearly the TARDIS Tuner sold well enough, for it was advertised in the pages of Doctor Who Weekly and other comics for several years. And now this totally non-canonical item has become popular with Who cosplayers, with a working model going for a 100 quid recently! 

Monday, 23 October 2017


Day 16  - "Uninvited Guests" - another homage to old school RPG art

Day 17 - Crooked House with Mark Gatiss as the Curator

Day 18 - I think I'm calling this one "Black Goat Kaleidoscope"

Day 19 - Ghastly McNasty, Editor at Large #inktober2017

Day 20 - A regular face at the Great Library of Dreams...

Day 21 - Misty

Day 22 - another piece inspired by MR James
"One thing I did notice in the carving on the well-head, which I think must have escaped you. It was a horrid, grotesque shape — perhaps more like a toad than anything else, and there was a label by it inscribed with the two words, “Depositum custodi” - "Keep that which is committed to thee"...

from The Treasure of Abbot Thomas

Day 23 - The Stain of Vampirism - this piece was very much an exercise in seeing what suggested itself from some random splashes.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

MICROGORIA 47 - Not for the Nervous

In this episode, Mr Jim Moon delves once more into the world of horror comics. In this show we review the second volume of Leah Moore and John Reppion's MR James adaptations Ghost Stories of An Antiquary Volume II, discuss classic reprints from Rebellion such as The Leopard of Lime Street and Monster, and round off with an in-depth review of their new Scream & Misty Halloween Special

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - MICROGORIA 47 - Not for the Nervous

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Friday, 20 October 2017

FOLKLORE ON FRIDAY - The Black Lady of Bradley Woods Part V

Over the past month, we've been investigating the tale of the Black Lady of Bradley Woods. We have looked at this well-known ghost's origin story, traced how various aspects of the legend have evolved over the years, and how this particular ghost story is actually still changing even in the 21st century. In fact. thanks the Black Lady legend appearing on the internet it would seem that the story is actually still gaining additional elements, with a notable example being the claim that there is an informal folk ritual to summon up the Black Lady.

In recent retellings of the tale, such as the one found on the Creepypasta Wiki,  it is alleged that if you go into Bradley Woods upon New Year's Day and call out "Black lady, black lady, I've stolen your baby" three times, the spectre will appear. However most write-ups of the Black Lady legend also claim that this particular bit of lore is another recent addition to the mythos. Now the Creepypasta Wiki version appears to have been posted first in October 2013, however this version was copied and pasted, more or less exactly, from an entry posted on another website Urban Legends Online. And this earlier article (which you can find here) by "Storyteller" who claims to live locally, was posted a couple of years before on September 13th 2011.

Now another, later version can be found on the website Lincolnshire Info which details historical places to visit. In this article on the Black Lady (which you can find here), which was posted June 11th 2014, you find the summoning recounted again, but this time with a slight difference -  
 Most people in the village believe that if you go to the woods on Christmas eve and say, “Black lady, black lady, I’ve stolen your baby” three times, the black lady will appear to you.
So then this later retelling has the special date for the summoning as Christmas Eve rather than New Year's Day. And the change in dates is interesting, for it mirrors some of the variations in the actual origin tale of the Black Lady. For as we saw in the first part of this series, some versions of the story place the tragic events of the Black Lady's origin as occurring on New Year's Day, while others allege it all happened one Christmas Eve long ago.

Now having discovered a variation,  I carried on looking for other mentions of the summoning to see if there were further variants. Naturally I was also searching for versions which predated the Creepypasta and the Lincolnshire Info articles. And apparently there had been an earlier version of the legend posted, but one on a now-defunct site Mysterious Britain.co.uk. However thanks to some web wizardry, I was able to locate an archived version of the page which was written by Paul A McHugh and posted in July 2011. And this version also gives the date for the summoning as Christmas Eve. However curiously, in this article's retelling of the Black Lady origin tale , the date of the tragedy occurring given is New Year's Day.

Naturally this begs the question whether the Christmas Eve summoning date is genuine lore, or just an error. For logically you would think that the summoning rite should occur on the anniversary of the tragedy. And it is easy to imagine that a writer might accidentally transpose the two holidays - for that kind of simple error is a very familiar to anyone who writes. However on the other hand, folklore is not known for kow-towing to logic at the best of times, and it is not uncommon for legends to contradict themselves. Plus generally speaking, the spooks and spectres of folklore often manifest annually upon a Christmas night - all over the British Isles there are tales of ghosts who only will appear on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. And given the widespread nature of this Yuletide tradition of hauntings, it is actually perfectly plausible for the Black Lady legend to contain two seemingly contradictory dates.

So then, I continued to search for an older account that might shed some light on the matter. And on the site Ghosthits.com I found what appears to be an even earlier version. Now I have had no luck in working out exactly when this first appeared, but judging from the dates found in the rss feed for updates to the site, it was certainly published before June 2011, making it the earliest version so far. However this is not the usual version of the summoning rite we have seen repeated so far, but a far more detailed version, and one with some radical differences. You may read the full article here, but here is the relevant section for our investigation - 
When my mum was a child she lived near Bradley Woods and this is one of the places she used to play. This was in late 1940’s. My mother’s story. When we were children we used to go to the woods and several of us would spread out and call her. We used to say “Black Lady, Black Lady we have your baby” and we used to shout this in turn. When the grey mist came we used to follow it through the cutting to the side of the church (St Georges, a Norman church). When she got to the church she would fully appear. She was a young lady and she was dressed in grey and she would disappear through a door at the side of the church, although there was no door there.
Now there are several interesting points here. Of course, as we are looking at the folklore of the Black Lady, we need not concern ourselves with the question of whether the spectre actually did appear when called. What is important for us is that local lore claims that she would. Secondly, it is interesting to note that while the rhyme is more or less the same - there is only a minor variation in the wording - there is no prescribed date or time for carrying out the ritual. However while there isn't an specific date for this version of the summoning, it is instead more closely tied to a particular location. And more intriguing still is the fact that this account alleges that this summoning lore was common knowledge to local children in the 1940s, despite accounts of it only seeming to surface in the 21st century.

This kind of dating issue is one of the key problems for folklorists, for folklore often exists as an oral tradition, and therefore a piece of legend or lore may have been in circulation decades before anyone formally writes it down somewhere. Now given that this account is the earliest mention I could find of the summoning, I don't think we have any particular reason to doubt its veracity. Had it appeared later, there could be a suspicion that it was an embellishment of the later lore. However given the dates, the reverse could well be true, with the later, and briefer versions being been spawned from some clumsy paraphrasing of this little article. But equally, the shift from being tied to a certain place to a certain date could well be down to the natural drift that occurs in folklore passed down through several generations, or simply multiple versions being told at the same time in the area.

However what is particularly intriguing about the above report from the 1940s, is the fact that it chimes very closely with details of tales told of the Black Lady that are not usually recorded in write-ups of the legend. Several alleged sightings of the Black Lady describe her as dressed in grey, and there are other reports of her appearing as mist. Furthermore in the comments on local historian Rod Collins' article on the Black Lady, there is even a report, dated as occurring in the 1950s, of some local boys encountering something terrifying in the lane by St George's Church that leads into the woods.

It is enough to make you wonder whether there really is something haunting Bradley Woods... However I think it is more than fair to say that the Black Lady has certainly haunted the imagination of local folks for generations, and given how tales about her are not only still spreading, it will be many years before this particular ghost is laid to rest.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

THE 'ORRIBLE 'OUSE OF TERRIBLE OLD TAT #28 - The Coming of the Catalogues

Hello dear fiends and welcome once again to the tottering old pile that is only held up by the tottering piles of tat within its walls! No, seriously folks - if the roof falls in while you are here, we're definitely not liable for damages now I've warned you about it! However impeding death by roof slates aside, let's see what I've dragged out for you today...

Now that teetering pile of thick, once slick, volumes aren't just there to hold the crumbling spires of this ancient edifice up! On no, dear friends, those tatty and dog-eared tomes were once a source of delight and magic, whose mere appearance was a mystic harbinger of joys to come! And while now they are I must admit sometimes serving impromptu architectural supports in this dilapidated wreck of a house, there were in fact the cornerstones of many a childhood in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, and indeed were a key building block in many a family celebration. And so what were these arcane volumes of enchantment and wonder? Well, they were mail order catalogues. But wait, come back! These weren't just any old catalogues, these were the fabled Autumn/Winter editions? Don't you realise how important that was? Well then, let me explain!   

We increasingly tend to think that getting our shopping through the post as a marvelous miracle of the internet age. How we laugh at those fools who were stupid enough to be born in the dark days before the web, those berks who had to actually GO TO A SHOP and CARRY IT HOME THEMSELVES! Morons right? Wrong! For if thou thinkst so, thou are the dullard here! See, I'm so annoyed, that I hath gone all old-fashioned and that on thy hind-quarters! Anyhow, verbal tomfoolery and needlessly insulting the readership aside, the rapidly being forgotten fact is that home shopping has been around for an awfully long time. Alright it's not as quick as the internet, but it was a thing for a lot longer than you might imagine.

Now here in the UK we had a long tradition of shopping by mail, with several big companies enjoying decades of trade by issuing big fat catalogues of their wares that folks could order from. One of the biggest and one of the first was the Kays catalogue, that was founded in Worcester in 1890. Yes, you did read that right! And their big rival Freemans was set up in Clapham in 1905, and even third kid on the podium, Bronze medalist Grattans, started up in 1912! These three firms were the titans of the catalogue world in the UK, issuing huge telephone directory-sized books, featuring literally hundreds of glossy pages, and detailing thousands of products. Plus for many years, the catalogues had an added incentive other than just getting the goods delivered to your door. And that was you could pay off your bill in installments, thereby encouraging customers to do very big shops indeed.

Clothes, household goods, garden equipment, sports gear, kitchenware, bed linen, electrical goods... you name it, and they sold it. And of course, they did toys. Oh boy, did they do toys! In particular, the Autumn/Winter editions were stuffed with page after page for toys and games, catering for all tastes, ages, and interests. And so while the Spring/Summer edition generally could go and die in a hole as far as most kids were concerned, the Autumn/Winter catalogue was a big part of many a childhood.

To begin with, the mere appearance of one of these weighty tomes was a magical event,  and for many kids the appearance of the Autumn/Winter edition  had an almost totemic quality. It was an mystical event like hearing the first cuckoo, but instead of being a sign of spring starting, the arrival of the Autumn/Winter catalogue on the doorstep was the first herald that Christmastime was indeed coming!

As for the catalogue itself, obviously I don't need to explain the appeal of pages and pages of toys and games. It was like having a toyshop window in glossy paper form. And indeed, like Dickensian orphans in the snow, we sat with our noses practically pressed against this papery windowpane, coveting the delights showcased within.

However what it is easy to forget these days, is that back then these toy sections of the catalogues were a prime way we used to discover what new toys and games would be coming out that year. Sure, you could maybe see a new toy in the local stores, or maybe catch a TV ad (if they had made on one at all that is), but an Autumn/Winter catalogue was pretty much an encyclopedic listing of all the goodies hitting the shops - it was like having every toy store in town in your hands!

And this of course leads to the other major reason why these catalogues are so fondly remembered - for writing your annual list of requests for Santa was frequently done while flipping through such a catalogue, weighing up how many things you could reasonably get away with asking for. Now course, we all know that Santa is indeed real, but equally even little kids know that they aren't going to get the entire contents of the local toy shop. Not only did you have to calculate how good you have been, divided by a guesstimate of whether Santa had possibly seen you shooting the cat up the arse with a Nemesis rocket from your Matchbox Raider Command that time last week, but you had to choose wisely...

For by a certain age, some of us had learnt that all that glitters wasn't toy gold. And you had to chose very carefully... For yes, that particular toy might look and sound VERY EXCITING indeed, and be worth all those unnecessary caps, but the brief description and pictures in the catalogue could well be even more misleading that certain toys adverts I could mention - yes Tank Command I am looking at you! And stop laughing at the back, Super Flight Deck and I Vant To Bite Your Finger, you time will come, believe you me! Now where was I? Oh yes...

...And if you had <sad grail knight voice from Indiana Jones and his Dad> chosen poorly</sad grail knight voice from Indiana Jones and his Dad>, when you opened the bugger up on Christmas morning, you'd quickly find that instead of delivering the ultimate play experience, it was in fact shoddy and badly thought-out tat. Not a desirable result at the best of times, but you really wanted to avoid blowing your BIG PRESENT choice on something that turned up to be rubbish. As comedian Jack Dee once remarked, ordering things from catalogues is very similar to making a bet...

Of course like many things in childhood, the time when catalogues brought us joy and excitement was all too brief, a short span of years that fall between gaining a competence enough reading level to navigate the densely packed pages and read the descriptions in tiny print and that sad day when toys and games lose their appeal... Of course, the process of growing up does bring the catalogue a second and somewhat grubby renaissance, when the teenage hormones kick in and you realise there's nearly naked ladies to be ogled in the lingerie section, that's an entirely different story! And no, you can't borrow my copy of Kays Autumn/Winter 1983 for old time's sake! Away with you, you filth wizard! 

Monday, 16 October 2017


Day 8 - "When It Was Moonlight..."  - I just can't resist the Ionicus style at the moment! Although there's more than a touch of MR James about this one too..

Day 9 - "Morning Stroll, Pnakotus, 400 Millions Years BC" -
This time I was having a go at doing something in a Gahan Wilson style, and hence opted for a little drawing of one of the Great Race of Yith who according to HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Out of Time lived on Earth in the millennia before man...

Day 10 - Nothing clever, just an undead fella! 

Day 11 - "Vincent in Blue"

Day 12 - "Delvers in the Dark" - a little homage to old school RPG art

Day 13 - "He seemed to be a tall thin man — or was it by any chance a woman?— at least, it was someone who covered his or her head with some kind of drapery before going to bed, and, he thought, must be possessed of a red lamp-shade — and the lamp must be flickering very much..." from Number 13 by MR James

Day 14  - The Inhabitant of the Lake - a pen and water colour inspired by the writings of Ramsey Campbell 

Day 15 - The Rose Garden 

"It was not a mask. It was a face — large, smooth, and pink. She remembers the minute drops of perspiration which were starting from its forehead: she remembers how the jaws were clean-shaven and the eyes shut. She remembers also, and with an accuracy which makes the thought intolerable to her, how the mouth was open and a single tooth appeared below the upper lip. As she looked the face receded into the darkness of the bush..." from The Rose Garden by MR James