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Issue 10

Bloodsongs: The Story

 

This sub-section of my site has been put together to document the story of Bloodsongs from its conception in 1993, through the publication of its ten issues, and finally its demise in 1998. For more information on each issue use the links provided.

The story begins in 1993: while running a second hand bookstore for a friend of mine I would often think about what it would be like to be the editor and publisher of a professional horror magazine. One that would pay its contributors, was offset printed, laid out professionally and was distributed nationally through newsstands and bookstores. The name that I was thinking of calling this new magazine was Severed Head. At the time I was editing and publishing two small press horror fiction magazines titled EOD and Shoggoth. After some thought I decided to go ahead and to make this new magazine a reality. Editing and publishing such a magazine is no small task and one that would require my full attention. The time had come for me to move on so, reluctantly, I decided to fold EOD and Shoggoth.

I mentioned my new magazine idea to friend and fellow writer Steve Proposch who, at the time, was helping me out with EOD. When I said that I planned to fold EOD Steve offered to take over it as editor. After some more discussion we decided that, rather than each of us doing our own magazine, that it would be better to combine forces and produce one magazine. We decided to call this new magazine Bloodsongs.

In 1993 horror publishing in Australia, apart from a couple small press publications, was non-existent. Major publishers were just not interested in publishing local horror writers; this, despite the fact, that overseas names like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker consistently made the top of the best-seller list.

I was a firm believer, and I still am, that given the same publicity and promotion, that Australian horror writers could sell well here too. With Bloodsongs I wanted to show the mainstream that horror could sell and that a professional horror magazine was financially viable.

Publishing a magazine isn't cheap and we were not exactly rolling in the moolah. I was barely making any money running a used bookstore and Steve was only working part time. We needed computer equipment, also contributors and printers had to be paid. The Government Arts Department turned us down twice for funding and the banks refused to have anything to do with us. The only thing that got us started was a small loan from Steve's father and our sheer determination.

Commerce House is a 1920s art deco, five story building located on Flinders Street between Queen and Elizabeth Streets in the Melbourne CBD area. The building has now been converted into yuppie apartments, but in 1993 it was run down and offered rooms at cheap rent. Naturally this led to the rooms being let mostly by an assortment of "weirdos", including video artists, musicians, a role playing group, photographers, communists, and various other fringe types. Steve and I rented a room on the top floor which became our Bloodsongs office. We fitted in perfectly.

It was here where we set up our office and headquarters. What little office furniture we had was scrounged, found or bought second hand. Our computer could barely run the software we were using to lay out the magazine. The main thing was that we had done it: we were in the publishing business.

When we got Bloodsongs #1 back from the printers in January 1994 we celebrated. By mid 1994 Bryce Stevens had moved down to Melbourne from Sydney and joined our team as assistant editor. We were all very enthusiastic and it was a fun and very productive time.

Although our intentions were in the right place, Steve and I just didn't have the know-how and experience, not to mention the financial backing, necessary to make this dream a reality.

By Bloodsongs #3 it had become apparent that the magazine was costing us far more to produce than it was making and had already putt us both several thousand dollars in debt. The obvious decision was that we should fold the magazine and cut our losses. After some discussion Steve opted to continue Bloodsongs on his own for a couple more issues in case things picked up.

By the time Bloodsongs #6 was published Steve had also had enough and negotiated to sell the Bloodsongs rights to Dave Bauer and Cynthia Conlin who were running the American Implosion Publishing. Cynthia took over as Editor-In-Chief from Bloodsongs#8 with Steve Proposch remaining on board as fiction editor. Implosion went on to publish three issues in the USA before folding Bloodsongs for good in 1998 after its tenth issue.

Bloodsongs holds a unique place in the history of Australian horror publishing as it was the first real professional horror magazine in Australia.

Yes, it's the dastardly duo contemplating world domination in their secret headquarters at Commerce House. Photo taken 1994 at our office in Commerce House. Steve Proposch (left) & Chris A. Masters (right).

 

 

We're actually nice guys ... really! This is another photo taken at our Commerce House office. Bryce Stevens (left), Steve Proposch (centre) & Chris A. Masters (right).

 

 
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