Sorry about the “interruption of service,” so to speak. I had some personal matters to attend to, and then I had to plan for the Dragon Con Horror Track. And some of it can be attributed to that old bugaboo of mine, “overthinking it.”
When I coined the term “dreadpunk,” it was partially satirical. I knew that sooner or later, some jackass was going to take the things I liked and give them a shiny new name, so I figured that jackass might as well be me. But I also wanted shorthand for (say it all together, gang) “contemporary Gothic and Victorian-inspired Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Spooky Pop Culture.”
This time last year, we were in the middle of what appeared to be a new boom of new Gothic entertainment: PENNY DREADFUL had been renewed for a third season, Guillermo del Toro’s CRIMSON PEAK was being readied for theatrical release, and VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN looked like it could be breezy fun. As we all know by now, PENNY DREADFUL ended on a frustratingly half-assed note, CRIMSON PEAK underperformed (even though it is gaining a cult audience), and VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN exploded on contact with the box office.
But a funny thing happened while all of this was going on: people began to embrace the term “dreadpunk” — many of them strangers, such as the administrator of the Facebook page Dreadpunk = Gothic Horror (and I love that self-explanatory title). While some of these folks have placed an undue emphasis on Cthulhu*, overall they are getting more right than wrong. Refreshingly, a large part of “getting it right” has been an embrace of the humorous, quirky streak that is embedded deep in dreadpunk’s overall DNA — the works of Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, and, of course, Tim Burton.
I have long said that dreadpunk is an entertainment aesthetic rather than a subculture, but I think that the term can apply to the fandom of this material as well. And even if you write the term off as utterly ridiculous, hopefully you’ll enjoy reading the site if you’re a fan of “contemporary Gothic and Victorian-inspired Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Spooky Pop Culture.”
* To be clear, I am a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. However, his work is more properly termed “cosmic horror” whereas dreadpunk is primarily rooted in Gothic horror and fantasy. There’s definite crossover — Chaosium’s CTHULHU BY GASLIGHT was an early inspiration of mine — but Cthulhu and co. have a sizable fanbase without swallowing up this one, too.