Every Creepy Illustration Featured in ‘Corpse Cold: New American Folklore’

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Chad Wehrle‘s macabre, black-and-white illustrations truly bring the stories in our anthology Corpse Cold: New American Folklore to life. Here’s a look at all of the major pieces found in Corpse Cold, including front matter and other incidental art, in the order they appear.

Cover

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Content section

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Story section

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“Switches”

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“Black Dog”

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“Czarny Lud”

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“Corpse Cold”

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“Amityville Beach”

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“A Morning Fog”

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“Friendship: Dead and Buried”

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“Autoplay ‘On'”

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“The Big ‘M'”

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“Dracula’s Bride”

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“Moss Lake Island”

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“It That Decays”

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“Two Visions, 1984”

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“Woman on the Campus Green”

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“The Blue Hole”

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“Jesup”

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“Model Citizens”

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“Last Train Home”

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“A Casket for My Mother”

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“Echo’s Reflection”

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Notes section

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Order your copy of Corpse Cold through Amazon. 

10 Real-Life Locations That Inspired The Stories in ‘Corpse Cold: New American Folklore’

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We often base our tales in actual locations around our home state of New York. It’s fun to take everyday places, locations we’ve visited once, or often, and infuse them with our brand of lore.

Here are some of the illustrations from Corpse Cold: New American Folklore paired with their real-life inspirations!

“Amityville Beach”/Amityville Beach, Long Island

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This popular beach is located in the Long Island village of Amityville, the setting of the infamous Amityville Horror, which is mentioned in our story.

“Friendship: Dead and Buried”/The Last Ride burial simulator

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The character Kevin Morrissey in “Friendship: Dead and Buried” is treated to a “ride” on Six Feet Under, which “simulates” an actual burial. Six Feet Under was inspired by The Last Ride, a traveling amusement park attraction in the Northeast United States that offers a similarly visceral experience.

“The Big ‘M'”/Eagle Bay, N.Y.

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The supermarket featured in the story “The Big ‘M’ was inspired by a now-closed grocery in Eagle Bay, N.Y., in the Adirondacks. This is a picture of the market as it appeared in the 1980s.

“Dracula’s Bride”/Ukranian Catholic Church

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The chapel that the kids in “Dracula’s Bride” chase the elderly Mrs. Ellsic to is actually modeled after a Ukranian Catholic Church in Johnson City, N.Y. Corpse Cold co-author Joe Sullivan grew up in the same neighborhood, where the church still stands.

“Moss Lake Island”/Echo Island

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Echo Island

The small island featured in “Moss Lake Island” is inspired by Echo Island, situated on Big Moose Lake in N.Y. Big Moose Lake is only a short drive from Moss Lake.

“Two Visions, 1984″/Roscoe Diner

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The Roscoe Diner, where journalist Ross Davie picks up the hitchhiker in “Two Visions, 1984,” is a popular diner in Roscoe, N.Y., located on Route 17.

“Woman on the Campus Green”/Wadsworth Auditorium

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The entirety of “Woman on the Campus Green” takes place at SUNY Geneseo, where Joe Sullivan once attended college. A climactic scene in the story takes place in Wadsworth Auditorium, a performing arts venue on campus.

“The Blue Hole”/Peekamoose Blue Hole

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“The Blue Hole” is inspired by a real swimming hole in Grahamsville, N.Y., in the Catskills.

“Jesup”/Tioughnioga River

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This story was inspired by actual alligator sightings during the summer of 2017 on the Tioughnioga River, which runs through Whitney Point and Lisle, N.Y. It was no urban legend, as two alligators were eventually caught.

“Last Train Home”/Buffalo, N.Y.

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The train line featured in “Last Train Home” is based on the Buffalo Metro Rail system in Buffalo, N.Y.

Learn more about Corpse Cold: New American Folklore!

Who Murdered Ichabod Crane? Solving the Mystery of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

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By Joe Sullivan

For most readers and critics of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” there are only two possibilities regarding Ichabod Crane’s fate: either he was murdered by a ghastly, galloping Hessian soldier, or he was disposed of by Brom Bones. While the narrator, Mr. Diedrich Knickerbocker, goes to great pains to create an either/or binary between the two possible suspects, there has long been evidence that there is a third suspect, whom is given motive, but never explained away.

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The narrator describes Ichabod as a teller, and consumer, of fantastic tales.

“His appetite for the marvelous, and his powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been increased by his residence in this spell-bound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow.”

And more importantly, regarding the galloping Hessian and Ichabod’s penchant for seeking out frightful moments in the everyday:

“What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night! With what wistful look did he eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the waste fields from some distant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with snow, which, like a sheeted specter, beset his very path! How often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him! And how often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scourings!”

Here Mr. Knickerbocker begins to undermine the argument, regarding the Headless Horseman as prime suspect in the disappearance of Ichabod Crane. Sure, the Horseman has motive for killing Ichabod as he made his lonely trek that evening; the phantom Hessian takes heads, and that is what he does. But the Horseman is always a red herring, and Mr. Knickerbocker soon introduces a mortal suspect.

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Brom Bones and Ichabod are both seeking out the hand of Katrina Van Tassel. We’re told Ichabod is primarily interested in the wealth he should come to acquire from the estate of her father, Baltus, if he wins her heart. Brom’s interest in Katrina seems to be more romantic in nature than Ichabod’s, but it’s ultimately unclear, as Brom is in the business of winning, and every Dutchman of the valley knew that Katrina was the ultimate prize. Ichabod plays it cool, under the radar, while Brom goes right for Katrina. So, it’s no surprise, when Ichabod ultimately gets friendzoned by Ms. Van Tassel and sent on his way.

While Brom recognizes Ichabod as a rival, by the end of the harvest party Katrina has revealed her preference for Brom. Although, Brom is especially angry that he was shown up by the pedagogue during the storytelling/yarn-spinning portion of the evening’s festivities. It’s unclear if Brom knows Katrina has rejected Ichabod, and entirely possible that Katrina continues to let Brom think that Ichabod has her interest for the rest of the evening. So, Brom has his motive for becoming the legend and murdering Ichabod – although it is strange that Mr. Knickerbocker leaves out any additional clue to whether Brom stayed until the party’s end, or left early.

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Once pursued, Brom actually gives Ichabod his only hope for keeping his head from the Hessian Rider. But we soon discover that Brom was wrong about the protective qualities of the bridge, as Ichabod makes it across, to presumed safety, and is still beheaded by the Horseman, who “pass[es] by like a whirlwind.”

Brom is the most reasonable, and satisfactory, of choices as dispatcher of Crane, had Katrina not cleanly rejected Ichabod’s proposal the evening in which he disappeared. But there is another whom must be considered, as Mr. Knickerbocker presents us a third suspect, and even gives him motive!

Ichabod Crane is staying with Hans Van Ripper, a “choleric old Dutchman” and he borrows the man’s favorite horse on the night of his demise. The horse, Gunpowder, who

“had, in fact, been a favorite steed of his master’s, the choleric Van Ripper, who was a furious rider, and had infused, very probably, some of his own spirit into the animal; for, old and broken-down as he looked, there was more of the lurking devil in him than in any young filly in the country.”

We’re told Van Ripper was a furious rider, at one with his horse – both spirits imbued with a ‘lurking devil.’ And Ichabod is certainly not on good terms with his landlord, as Ichabod “thought, how soon he’d turn his back upon the old schoolhouse; snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper.” But what is their conflict?

 

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Before we attest to a motive, we must make note that Van Ripper is the first to send out a search for Ichabod, and also first to the crime scene.

“Hans Van Ripper now began to feel some uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod, and his saddle. An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they came upon his traces. In one part of the road leading to the church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin…Hans Van Ripper as executor of his estate, examined the bundle which contained all his worldly effects.” which were quickly “consigned to the flames by Hans Van Ripper; who, from that time forward, determined to send his children no more to school, observing that he never knew any good come of this same reading and writing.”

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Van Ripper is first to the scene, and quickly burns most of the evidence. There is the possibility of some interplay between Van Ripper and Brom Bones here, as Van Ripper sees the love poem Ichabod had written to Katrina, and the fact that Van Ripper quickly disposes of it might be covering up the fact that Brom Bones had a rival suitor. Remember, Ichabod kept his romantic interest in Katrina secretive, and only fully revealed himself to her the night of the harvest party.

“It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans Van Ripper.”

This last passage seems the most damning. We’re given a clear motive for Brom Bones wanting to see the demise of Ichabod Crane, but at the end of the story Van Ripper is equated with the phantom fear that haunts Ichabod. Why? It doesn’t seem to fit that the narrator is presenting Brom as the goblin, and then, also Van Ripper.

Van Ripper had the most access to Crane, the most knowledge of his comings and goings, as they lived together. Van Ripper would have seen how much time and influence Crane had on the local children, including his own. Early in the story it’s described how Ichabod spent much of his time outside of school with the older boys he taught. We’re told Van Ripper removed his kids from school, while also having a sour relationship with their schoolmaster. Van Ripper loathes Crane. He’s forced to take the pedagogue into his home, because it’s his turn to house the man as payment for his services. After living with Ichabod, experiencing him, likely arguing with him, Van Ripper decided he didn’t want his children to be anything like their teacher. Crane rode Van Ripper’s favorite horse to his death, then Van Ripper destroyed any evidence at the scene of the crime. Hans Van Ripper killed Ichabod Crane because he was a bad influence on his children, and the children of Sleepy Hollow.

Joe Sullivan is the author of spook books, available on Amazon, and a fully illustrated book of horror tales inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, currently live on Kickstarter.

7 Tales From “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” That Freaked Me Out (And Still Do)

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By John Brhel

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was one of my favorite book series when I was younger, despite the fact that many of the stories terrified me to no end. Here I was, 8, 9 years old, reading about beheaded roommates and knife-wielding maniacs. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, this was not.

Most of the tales in Scary Stories that used to scare me when I was a kid just make me laugh now (“The Big Toe,” really?) but there are a handful that still leave me unsettled. Here’s a few of my favorite traumatizing tales!

“The Thing”

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Just look at that nightmarish thing! And that’s what it is, The Thing. Even in gathering photos for this post, I got residual childhood chills from seeing this guy’s face again. The plot here is pretty threadbare: a skeletal-looking man/zombie/ghoul follows two boys home and watches them from across the street. But the combination of this image and the idea of being helpless as some weirdo followed me home (where’s your parents, kids?) made this one stand out for me. I seriously couldn’t look at that drawing, and I don’t enjoy it too much now.

 

“The Window”

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When I first read this story, I lived on a semi-rural road, across from which was an empty field. My bedroom window looked out at the field, and the bottom of the window was really low, so anyone could just walk right up and look in on me while I was sleeping if they wanted to. This story, which tells of a young woman who watches helplessly from her window as a yellow-eyed creature (later discovered to be a vampire) slowly stalks toward her home, freaked me the hell out and only served to make my bedroom window even more terrifying. I probably begged my parents to move me to a different room because of this tale.

“Harold”

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This story features one of the most disturbing final scenes in anything I’ve watched or read to this day, for which it wins the “How The Hell Did This End Up In My Elementary School Library? Award.” In this tale two farmers, Thomas and Arnold, make a scarecrow to pass the time in their boring cow-milking lives. They name it after another farmer they dislike and proceed to treat it like dirt, taunting the dummy, smearing food in its face. When Harold begins to grunt and scurry around the roof of their hut at night, Thomas and Arnold flee. In their haste, they forget their all-important milking stools (hate it when that happens). Thomas has to go back to get the stools. But when Alfred looks back at the hut for Thomas, all he sees is Harold stretching out his buddy’s bloody skin on the rooftop. WTF! There’s a reason why this tale always comes up in discussions of Scary Stories. It’s straight-up insane.

 

“One Sunday Morning”

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I was raised Roman Catholic, so I spent many a dull hour at Sunday morning Mass. This story, which tells of a man who unknowingly stumbles upon a church service open only to a parish of the undead, struck a chord with me. I think it was mainly the idea of feeling like you’re in a safe place — I mean, what’s more peaceful and non-threatening than a church? — and finding out that not only is it unsafe, but that the people in there want you dead. This is probably why I don’t go to church anymore. Yeah, that’s the reason.

 

“The Bride”

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Every kid knows what it’s like to play hide-and-seek, so every kid can relate to the terrifying prospect of being trapped in a hiding spot, never to be found. I was probably playing a lot more Nintendo Entertainment System than hide-and-seek when I first read this story, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying.

 

“Maybe You Will Remember”

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You can blame probably this story, the “waking up in a bathtub with your kidney removed” urban legend and the movie Hostel for me never wanting to travel abroad. In this story, a young woman’s mother mysteriously disappears while they are vacationing  together in Paris. The daughter insists that she and her mother were renting out room 505, but it’s revealed that the room was nothing like she remembers, and no one can recall ever meeting her mother (spoiler alert: her mother had died from some virus and authorities were trying to quell any public hysteria). The idea of losing one’s mother is terrifying, especially when you have no idea of her actual fate. I’m fine never leaving North America, really.

 

“Faster and Faster”

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This story doesn’t come up in a lot of discussions about Scary Stories, but I think it’s worth a mention. In it, two cousins find an old, blood-stained (yeah, that’s normal) drum. For some reason, when they play the drum, phantoms on horseback come and shoot an arrow at one of them, killing him. I couldn’t believe what I was reading back then — some kid actually getting killed by a ghost! Most children’s books wouldn’t have more than a ghost simply saying “Boo!” but Alvin Schwartz was down with murder. You’re the boss, Alvin.

John Brhel is the co-author of Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, a 20-story illustrated collection greatly inspired by the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Learn more about Corpse Cold. 

 

CORPSE COLD: NEW AMERICAN FOLKLORE is live on Kickstarter!

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Our new book, Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, is now live on Kickstarter. 17 fully illustrated spook stories inspired by 80s and 90s horror. If you grew up reading books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, go back us on the project page!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1004065989/corpse-cold-new-american-folklore/widget/video.html

New book of illustrated spook stories inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s horror launching on Kickstarter on Sept. 30

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EMBARGO DATE: SEPT. 30

New book of illustrated spook stories inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s horror launching on Kickstarter on Sept. 30

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore to feature 17 fully illustrated campfire tales

BINGHAMTON, NY — Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, a new book inspired by horror from the 1980s and 1990s, is coming to Kickstarter on Sept 30.

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore features 17 chilling campfire-style legends, written in homage to classic horror series like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Fear Street, intended for adult readers. The book is co-written by authors John Brhel and Joe Sullivan, and each story is accompanied by a macabre illustration by artist Chad Wehrle.

“We grew up watching Twilight Zone and Are You Afraid of the Dark? and reading books like Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book and various American horror anthologies,” said Brhel. “The unsettling stories and imagery found in books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark made an impact on Joe, Chad, and myself, all the way back in elementary school. In fact, those books are one of the biggest reasons why we write today. With Corpse Cold, we hope to provide that same sort of reading experience for people like us — readers who are grown up, but still nostalgic for creepy art and new takes on well, and lesser known, urban legends and folktales.”

Brhel and Sullivan have co-written several books of paranormal and weird fiction, including Tales From Valleyview Cemetery (2015) and At The Cemetery Gates: Year One (2016). They are launching their Kickstarter campaign to cover production costs for the book, as well as artist fees.

A selection of stories to be included in Corpse Cold: New American Folklore:

“Moss Lake Island”

A carefree getaway in the Adirondacks takes a terrifying turn when two friends stumble upon an island inhabited by witches…

“Two Visions, 1984”

A journalist on his way to cover an event with President Ronald Reagan picks up a hitchhiker with a series of visions regarding his future…

“The Woman on the Campus Green”

A college student with a dark family history finds himself the subject of a strange secret admirer…

“Black Dog”

Two teenage brothers encounter the strange creature that their father had warned them about since childhood, while hunting in the woods near their home…

“Autoplay On”

A man falls asleep watching a playlist of internet videos and ends up playing a clip he was never supposed to see…

To view a preview of the Corpse Cold Kickstarter campaign, visit http://bit.ly/corpsecold.

For more information on Brhel and Sullivan, visit the following pages.

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Website: cemeterygatesmedia.wordpress.com