Fascinated Friday: Dreadpunk, or “Now I Have a Name for That!”
As I was hard at work procrastinating on some revisions for one of our future novellas this week, I came across this write-up on one of the panels at Atlanta’s Dragoncon this weekend. The director of the horror track for the con, Derek Tatum, runs a site called Dreadpunk.com, and there was a Dreadpunk panel at the convention. This marked the first time the term had been used publicly. And as I read the article, I was overcome with a sense of relief. Because now, I finally had a term to apply to this aesthetic beyond “the stuff that I find cool.”
Derek Tatum gives a nice breakdown on what is Dreadpunk here. He summed it up elegantly to me when I hit him up on facebook as ““Period Piece Gothic Horror Created by Modern Writers and Filmmakers.”
Sounds great, huh?
To go a bit further though, Dreadpunk is a term for the gothic-horror inspired horror and fantasy that has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence of late. Victorian-based horror is a good place to start. Think gas lamps and top hats and monsters. And fog. Lots of fog. The list of things that fall into this category reads like a catalog of my bookshelves and dvd collection. Sleepy Hollow, both the Tim Burton movie and the recent television series, Showtime’s amazing Penny Dreadful, the Ravenloft setting for D&D (love me some Ravenloft!) The Woman in Black (a movie where I actually yelled out “Get out of the house Harry Potter!” while I watched it), and Del Toro’s upcoming Crimson Peak.
So yeah. Pretty much everything I love. Now I have a good name to apply to them.
In her article on Dreadpunk, Aja Romano puts forward three laws for the aesthetic.
The 3 Laws of Dreadpunk:
- Dreadpunk is based in horror or dark fantasy, with a particular emphasis the word “dread”: horror by implication or unseen.
- Dreadpunk is set within or informed by pre- or early-20th century horror—definitely no later than Lovecraft, with Victorian London serving as the default touchstone for the Dreadpunk aesthetic.
- Dreadpunk is self-aware and subversive, while still emphasizing classic horror traditions.
Our second novella, Rend the Dark, coming out in October is a fantasy horror story, and it wears its Dreadpunk lineage proudly on its sleeve. I love the feel of this genre, the look, the flavor. All of it.
And actually, the greatest thing about Dreadpunk is something that Aja Romano hits beautifully in her article. She explains “Perhaps the coolest thing about Dreadpunk as a concept is that it’s clearly already well-developed and undergoing exploration by creators across mediums. Now it just has a name.”
So this weekend, as Summer is starting to start to edge towards Fall, find yourself a little Dreadpunk reading or viewing. Get immersed in some foggy streets, where the glow of the gaslamps play tricks in the mist. And listen carefully for whatever might be following you in the dark.
Until next time, keep finding things you love. Or at least finding that they actually have a cool name now.
I know I will.