Thursday, August 31, 2017

That Which Is Not Dead... Part 4

Awards and Such
In 1990, the Small Press Writers and Artists Organization (SPWAO) awarded the Best Magazine Award to Deathrealm. In the early 90s, the organization changed its name to Small Press Genre Assocation (SPGA) to be more inclusive of other media, and in 1994, Deathrealm again won their Best Magazine Award. The following year, the newly formed International Horror Guild awarded Best Publication of 1995 to Deathrealm at the World Horror Convention in Eugene, Oregon.

Stan Tal, during his tenure as Deathrealm's publisher, came up with the idea that we should sponsor a prestigious award for various categories in the horror genre. I confess I was a little dubious as to how well this would work, since Deathrealm, as a magazine itself, would of course be ineligible, and impartiality would be paramount. He suggested that the readers themselves should vote on the awards, and this is indeed how we proceeded. In 1995, the first Deathrealm Awards (for calendar year 1994), in the form of quite expensive engraved plaques, were awarded at the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, with a nice presentation ceremony that Tal and I put together. The winners were:
  • Best Anthology: The Year's Best Horror XXII, edited by Karl Edward Wagner
  • Best Artist: Alan Clark
  • Best Collection: Bibliomen, by Gene Wolfe
  • Best Fiction Magazine: Terminal Fright, edited by Kenneth Abner
  • Best Non-Fiction Magazine: The Scream Factory, edited by Peter Enfantino and Robert Morrish
  • Best Novel: Strange Angels, by Kathe Koja
  • Best Short Fiction: "Driftglider," by Jeffrey Osier
When Malicious Press assumed responsibility for Deathrealm, publishers Lawrence Watt-Evans and Terry Rossio agreed that continuing the awards would be good for keeping the magazine's name in the public eye. LWE took responsibility for creating and presenting the awards for 1995 at the 1996 World Horror Con in Eugene, Oregon. The winners were:
  • Best Anthology: Dark Love, Edited by Nancy Collins, Ed Kramer, & Martin Greenberg
  • Best Artist: Chad Savage
  • Best Collection: Pentacle, by Tom Piccirilli
  • Best Magazine: Lore, edited by Rod Heather
  • Best Novel: The Safety of Unknown Cities, by Lucy Taylor
  • Best Short Fiction: "Chatting with Anubis," by Harlan Ellison
The Deathrealm Awards existed for only two years, but they did succeed in drawing considerable attention to both the award winners and the magazine itself.

When Deathrealm closed its doors in 1997, I had no illusions about it ever rising again from the dead. While I dearly loved the magazine—and being recognized in the horror community as "Mr. Deathrealm"—the burden of it during that last year or so was crushing. When I wasn't at my day job, I was spending most of the rest of my waking hours playing collection agent, trying to get distributors and book dealers to pay the often substantial amounts they owed. Distributors certainly had some creative accountants, and it may be that dealing with them in 1996 and 1997 is why I lost my hair and developed high blood pressure.

For a full two years after Deathrealm's demise, I continued to receive almost as many submissions by mail as I had during the magazine's heyday. Any number of hopeful writers urged me to hold onto their manuscripts "just in case" Deathrealm might be resurrected yet again. Even three, four, and five years later, though the quantity tapered off, I still regularly received fiction submissions and queries. At one point, I had to convince one aspiring writer that the magazine really was closed, that I wasn't just trying to put him off.
Cover of Deathrealms
(Delirium Books, 2004)

A year or so prior to Deathrealm's cancellation, a publisher by the name of Tangram expressed an interest in releasing a Best of Deathrealm anthology, and the proprietor and I set about making the project happen. Contracts were signed, writers were notified, payments were promised. In its relatively short lifetime, Tangram had produced some high-quality work, but as time went on, communication became more and more infrequent. Calls were not returned. At last, mail to Tangram began bouncing back to me, and it was clear that this project, as great as it had promised to be, was not going to happen. Tangram, as a publisher, was never heard from again.

The anthology, however, was not as dead as the magazine. In 2004, Shane Staley, owner of the prestigious Delirium Books, agreed to publish a signed, limited-edition hardback titled Deathrealms, a collection of stories from the magazine. It turned out to be a gorgeous book indeed, featuring 15 stories from various issues of the magazine, with striking cover art by Mike Bohatch. While many may have called it a "Best of" volume, my personal feeling, which I conveyed in the editorial, was that the book was not truly a best-of, but more a representative sampling of the stories that I felt defined the magazine's character over the years.

And that, I suppose, brings us back around to the first entry of this little blog series ("That Which Is Not Dead... Part 1"). For some time, I've been wanting to write up something that might pass as the "definitive" history of Deathrealm, since there's not that much about it to be found online these days, twenty whole years after the final issue hit the street. The magazine—the experience—for all its hard work and hard lessons, is one I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I'm confident Deathrealm has earned a respectable place in the annals of fiction magazines, and I hope it will be remembered even when I have shuffled off to the Black Lodge, or wherever it is that old horror writers/editors shuffle off to.

I hope you've enjoyed these musings of mine, which I hope to preserve for posterity—or at least for me later in life. Who knows... there may come a time I won't remember any of this.


A couple of links of interest: 

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