author C.C.Cole's blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

On Early Dark Fantasy Inspiration

Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows"

Dark Fantasy, sometimes, I believe I was destined to write as a genre.
“Destiny” described in the pure sense, has no other factors, it will happen no matter what.  So I can’t describe my current writing as destiny from birth, but I can from childhood. 

I’ve written before how kids like monsters.  We had little plastic dinosaurs from Sinclair gas stations in our windowsills.  I could recite genus species of dinosaurs better before I started school at 5 than when it was required for school.  Early nursery rhymes like Mother Goose had weird creatures that seemed cool.  Any popular music on AM radio that featured any kind of critter was always a hit to us as we walked down gravel roads singing the lyrics of “Amos Moses” (Jerry Reed), “Swamp Witch” (Jim Stafford), and last but not least, “Werewolves in London” (Warren Zevon…I have this CD, love it) at the top of our lungs; fortunately so far in the country nobody could hear us. 

While I was still preschool, the well known soap series “Dark Shadows” aired daily around 3pm.  Missing any episode was unacceptable at our house.  If the TV didn’t work, there was howling comparable to werewolves.  When my brother and sister got off the school bus, I’d have the TV on and ready and be waiting for them up the road, egging them to hurry up and get to the house, “Hurry, Barnabas is on!”

When the old series aired again in the 1990’s, I watched it again from the beginning and never saw a more slow moving soap opera.  How stunning adulthood can be, as maturity allows us to see what we once thought was genius we see again as boring.  But to give creator Dan Curtis his due:  Back in its day, he gave us a daily dose of low key horror with a center-character vampire, a beautiful blonde witch, historical backdrops, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, the scary “west wing,” and clueless main characters that would say “How could a door possibly open by itself?”  When the witch Angelique built a house of cards and lit them to burn down a house somewhere, I decided to try it myself.  I did get the house of cards built, but my Mom caught me with matches and corrected my non-witchcraft dabbling in short order with sharp words and a spanking.

As I look back on dark fantasy inspirations, it began very early in my life, though childhood poems, music, and television.  Some of it may look cheesy today, but the history still speaks for itself.  And considering the remakes of “Dark Shadows” not-so-bad in the ‘80’s with a Burton version I’ve heard is upcoming, I look forward to seeing Barnabas again.


  1. I know what you mean about feeling destined to write dark fantasy. It is what I write as well. Or paranormal stuff. (I'm not sure what to label it exactly all of the time.)

    But I did not start liking that stuff in early childhood like you did. I was actually too sensitive at the time to enjoy any of it.

  2. Thanks for the comment..I agree it's not for everyone at the same age.

  3. Perspective is everything. I'm sure if I watched the original series now, I'd have to laugh. But when I was a kid, it was way cool. Add to Dark Shadows my fascination with Stephen King - I think this is when Mom started to worry about me! I am looking forward to the new "Dark Shadows" with Depp. I think it's going to be a hoot. I have marked the new movie release on my calendar!

  4. Today, D is more camp than anything, but it still has a place in my heart--much like very early Dr Who....

    Write on, C.C.!

  5. Update: I loved the Burton "Dark Shadows" familiar enough for a reminder, but apart enough to not ruin a classic. As a Burton fan, I think it was great, and hilarious!