July Editorial

There’s an argument to be made that horror is a mode rather than a genre. What we typically think of as the conventions of horror can subtly sneak inside fantasy, crime, scifi, and even literary fiction. Bizarro, a literary movement that incorporates elements of absurdism, spectacle, and the surreal, operates similarly. While some Bizarro fiction seems to nestle firmly (and happily) within an established tradition, such as the works of Carlton Mellick III and Jeff Burk, other writers, like Alan Clark and Sam Pink, draw on Bizarro’s tropes while remaining distinct. Bizarro, in those cases, is the seasoning—not the meal itself.

That may be why, similarly to horror, Bizarro plays well with others. A soupçon of Bizarro enhances many literary dishes, crime fiction among them. Crime fiction deals with, well, crimes… but one has only to watch the news—read any history book—meet another human, really, to realize that human motivations, which sit at the heart of crime fiction, are not always clear cut. We don’t always make sense, or follow established patterns.

Some authors of crime fiction steer clear of the unexplained, preferring the gritty realism of “if this, then that” narratives. Other authors dive right in to the weird and the inexplicable. Both approaches have their merits, and in this, The Big Click’s special Bizarro edition, we celebrate both, showcasing the flexibility and breadth of what Bizarro can achieve when paired with crime fiction.

Take Cameron Pierce’s “Drop the World,” about the emotional struggles of a young boxer and Olympic hopeful. If that sounds neither Bizarro nor criminal, well, you’d be right. And wrong. Very wrong. As for Stephen Graham Jones’ “How to Know You’re A Killer,” in spite of the title, the story asks more questions than it answers. Can lists be stories? Can stories be manifestoes? Can manifestoes be a short, solid, exciting read? With all this confusion in the air, it’s a good thing J David Osborne is here in this issue with his essay “On Not-Knowing,” though it doesn’t really have anything to do with the above questions. (You won’t find any answers in our reviews of the hottest, latest Bizarro crime fiction titles out there, either, but you should check them out anyways.)

It wouldn’t be an editorial without a reminder that it’s extremely possible for you to support us by buying an issue or a subscription to The Big Click. So… yeah.



About the Author

The Editors

Jeremiah Tolbert is a web designer, writer, and photographer living in Tonganoxie, Kansas.

Nick Mamatas is a writer and editor living in Berkeley, California.

Seth Cadin is an East Bay artist and editor who also sometimes trades stories for money.

Molly Tanzer writes and edits in Boulder, Colorado.



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