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Tea’s Weird Week: The Super Troubles of Phoenix Jones

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My first book, Heroes in the Night, was published in 2013 and was a deep examination of the Real Life Superhero (RLSH) subculture. I’ve had a plan to write a piece sometime in the near future titled “Heroes in the Night: Where Are They Now?” One of the most sensational people I wrote about in the book is an MMA fighter turned RLSH named Benjamin Fodor aka Phoenix Jones, leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement.

Where he is now is in, as Seattle station KOMO News notes, “super trouble.” On November 21 Fodor sold $500 of MDMA (“Molly”) to an undercover cop (who was tipped off that Fodor was dealing) and delivered it to him at a Starbucks. The agent sent Fodor $500 for a second delivery of Molly, but Fodor didn’t deliver. Around the time of this drug deal, Phoenix Jones was active, according to his Twitter, with posts from September-November 2019 saying he was repairing his “super suit,” “mapping and patrol areas and crime reports” in relation to taking out a local gang, and searching for a stolen vehicle.

After Fodor didn’t deliver the second purchase of Molly, the police agent switched tactics and decided to pose as a frisky young woman who wanted to party with Fodor and his girlfriend.

The Seattle Times reports:

Fodor and “Laura” exchanged text messages over three days. At one point, Fodor gave “Laura” his full name and encouraged her to Google him.

“Laura” responded: “OMG I just googled u … Superhero’s are hot lol. You really a superhero?”

Fodor and “Laura” made an arrangement for Fodor to deliver $225 worth of cocaine for a birthday party on January 9, where Fodor and his girlfriend were arrested with four grams of coke. They are scheduled for a court hearing on February 3.

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Tea Krulos with Phoenix Jones on the streets of Seattle, October 2011. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

Last I heard, Phoenix Jones was quite pissed off at me. I don’t think he was wrong to feel that way. In 2015, I was a guest on the radio show dedicated to all things strange, Coast-to-Coast AM, with the great George Noory. I was there to talk about my second book, Monster Hunters, but we spent some time talking about Heroes in the Night. I knew I had limited time on the subject, so I decided to roll with talking about one of the most frightening nights of my life– the night of the “Pepper Spray Incident.”

To recap: In October 2011 I voyaged out to Seattle to meet Phoenix Jones. My second night there, I was on patrol with Phoenix Jones, his teammate Ghost, and a videographer named Ryan. We spotted a group of people fighting in the street. Phoenix Jones ran into the midst of the battle and pepper-sprayed the combatants. The scene that followed was pure chaos– an angry woman beat Phoenix repeatedly with a high heel shoe, I was punched in the face by an angry, pepper spray soaked Russian, me and Phoenix were almost run down by angry, pepper spray soaked Russians in an SUV, I was almost arrested with Phoenix Jones (the officer let me go after I explained that I was a writer.)

Phoenix spent the night in jail. The incident was reported around the world and became a joke on Saturday Night Live. I wrote about that night in a chapter of Heroes in the Night titled “People Fighting and Superheroes and Pepper Spray and…I Don’t Know.”

I think Phoenix Jones was angry at me because I chose to share on Coast-to-Coast AM this moment where he had fucked up, a scene where the defender of Seattle caused a scene of dangerous chaos. People running around burning with pepper spray, screaming in Russian, and punching each other made for good radio.

I did not mention the charity events he had organized. I did not mention that he had inspired an entire team of Seattlites to spend their spare time patrolling the Rain City to protect their fellow citizens. I did not talk about how he had placed a car-jacker under citizen’s arrest or how he had dedicated his life to trying to be a superhero and helping people out.  I always try to give a fair assessment of people, a nuanced look that talks about their good qualities and bad qualities. A lot of people I write about seem to be a mix of both. On Coast-to-Coast AM, I failed to do that.

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Tea Krulos examines Phoenix Jones’s collapsible baton. Former girlfriend “Purple Reign” sits next to Jones. Seattle, 2011. Photo by Lucien Knuteson.

Let’s back up for a second. In 2011, 20-year-old Phoenix Jones busts on the scene, energetic about being the world’s greatest superhero. I think he had heart and genuinely wanted to be a hero. But everyone told him he couldn’t.

Phoenix Jones was inspired by the RLSH movement, but found himself aggressively rejected by most of the people he hoped would be his peers. Not only rejected, but some RLSH developed an unhealthy obsession with his downfall. They said he was a liar (I think he embellished or fabricated stories to give him more street cred), a cocky egotist, a sell-out, a scammer. I believe some of this was jealousy over the massive amount of media attention he received, though the media was also not always kind to him. They called him an “idiot weirdo,” and brought up discrepancies in his stories. The police thought he was a pain in the ass. The City Attorney of Seattle dropped the charges against him for the Pepper Spray Incident, but reprimanded him as a “deeply misguided individual.” A loud chorus was calling Phoenix Jones a failure.

It makes me sad to think that all of this rejection possibly led Fodor down the wrong path. If everyone– the RLSH, the authorities, the media is chanting “you are no superhero,” I would think it would wear him down over the 9 years he has tried to do good as Phoenix Jones. Maybe he thought “if that’s what you’re telling me, I’ll just deal drugs instead.” Think of the jaded cops who get worn down and turn dirty, dealing drugs with the same people they are supposed to arrest.

Phoenix Jones, if you ever read this, I want to say that I hope you don’t give up on your dream to be an inspiration– I think you slipped, like most people do at some point in their life (I know I have). You should still strive to be a positive influence– the world needs it.

Sources: “Real-life Superhero ‘Phoenix Jones’ in super trouble, facing drug charges,” KOMO News.

“Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones charged after undercover drug bust,” Seattle Times.

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My book Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement, features my adventures with Phoenix Jones and other RLSH. It’s available here: https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php?page_id=21

My upcoming book American Madness (August 2020, Feral House) also has a Real-Life Superhero tie-in. It tells the story of Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, and his descent into conspiracy theory culture. Pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/American-Madness-Conspiracy-Theories-Consciousness/dp/1627310967/

HAPPINESS

#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (2)

The #TrumpConspiracyCounter has the goal to track every time Trump promotes a conspiracy theory or theorist in 2020. Here’s the update for January 21-28. 

The conspiracy counter was ticking along slowly until an impeachment trial inspired TWEETSTORM! got the wheels whirring. In the last week Trump has retweeted conspiracy mongers almost 50 times.

09.) Our featured theory today is the image the President of the United States pinned on his Twitter January 23, seen here above. It’s his second count this year of personally promoting Spygate directly, the unfounded allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower. Spygate is something Trump is still obsessed with, even though there’s no proof that Obama directed the FBI to spy on Trump (or that he hung outside Trump Tower with a giant suction cup and a pair of binoculars).

10.) January 21: Retweets his son Donald Trump Jr.’s retweet of Breitbart News. Technically every retweet of Junior should count, as like father, like son, he is a conspiracist who has retweeted InfoWars and promoted theories about the Clintons and George Soros. Can you imagine, though, if the conspiracy counter also included members of the Trump Empire family and administration? I’d have to hire full time staff to update the counter around the clock! This click is for the Breitbart retweet.

11-19.) January 21: Mark R. Levin, host of Levin TV on Blaze (or as I like to call it,  InfoWars Lite), a network ran by conspiracy monger Glenn Beck (formerly of FOX). Trump’s retweets of Levin retweeted not just Blaze, but Levin’s sharing of other conspiracy peddlers like Breitbart News, Peter Schweizer (see last week’s column), and The Right Scoop.

20.-22.) January 21: Three retweets from Dan Bongino. In the past, Bongino has been a frequent InfoWars guest. He hosts his own podcast, The Dan Bongino Show, and is a major proponent of the Spygate conspiracy theory, penning a book titled Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump.

23.) January 22: Trump retweets a photoshop from White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino, a picture of him walking with an explosion labeled “Deep State” behind him. Deep State is a classic conspiracy term that refers to an undefined, shifting group of enemies, including Democrats, intelligence agencies, the media, Satanists, and whoever else conspiracists feel like throwing in.

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24-31.) January 24: More retweets Peter Schweitzer / retweet of endorsement of Schweitzer’s book and Dan Bongino.

32-36. January 24: Retweets of Gregg Jarrett. Jarrett is a FOX legal analyst and author of books titled The Russian Hoax and Witch Hunt. Nuff said.

37-55.) January 25-28: More retweets from aforementioned #TrumpConspiracyCounter entries Breitbart News, Gregg Jarrett, Mark Levin, Dan Bongino, and Jack Posobiec. 

56.) January 27: Trump retweets Dana Loesch, former NRA spokeswoman, host on the short-lived NRA-TV channel(2016-19) (and before that, Blaze and Breitbart). Not surprisingly, the NRA and their media is ripe with conspiracy theorists, including Loesch. Among many other things, she helped peddle a conspiracy that ISIS was behind a push for stricter gun laws because “terrorists agree, they want you to be disarmed,” Loesch said on NRA-TV.

#TrumpConspiracyCounter now has a Twitter page: https://twitter.com/TrumpConspirac3

“Krulos is one of the best chroniclers out there of the total craziness of our world today, and he does not disappoint in this book. He has a wickedly keen eye for high strangeness and a great voice to bring it to light.”– Mitch Smith, Goodreads review of Tea’s Weird Week: 2019 Review

Tea’s Weird Week: Random Acts of October

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Real-life Superheroes, paranormal investigators, conspiracy theory: classic Krulos topics. Three short things related to these subjects have crossed my brain this week and got collected here.

The Legendary Jack

Let me tell you about this guy I know, Jack. Jack is frustrated. It’s hard to catch a break in this world. You put heart and soul into a project, you pour in this passion and you are ignored. Meanwhile some putz will launch into the stratosphere of fame for just the stupidest thing you can think of. It’s a drag, man.

One day recently, Jack told us on Facebook, he was at the check out of the grocery store. While scribbling out a check for the groceries, counting the pennies in his head, he noticed an ad on the check out lane for a guy he used to work with at an oil changing place. This guy now had his own mortgage company. You can bet this guy doesn’t worry if he’s buying generic or name brand peanut butter!

But Mortgage Man Dan will never know the thrill of leaping off the corner post of a wrestling ring, sweat and adrenaline flying off of him as he tackles Baron Von Retchblubber (or whatever his name is) while a crowd in rapture cheers, letting rip a primal scream. Because this Jack is former wrestler JACK T. RIPPER, famous hero (or heel is probably the right term) of a hundred fights!

But wait, there’s more! Zzzzzzap! This same Jack is the mighty Razorhawk, one of these Real-Life Superheroes, founder of the Great Lakes Alliance, founder of the HOPE events.   I joined him in the search for a missing college student in Saint Paul, on a patrol on the streets of Minneapolis, and for a HOPE event in San Diego. I wrote about it in my book Heroes in the Night. Years later, I saw him at a HOPE event in Chicago. BAM!

This Razorhawk, in fact, was the winner of a YouTube reality show titled Academy of Heroes. His co-stars were his Real-life Superhero colleagues: the noble Knight Owl, the nimble Nyx, the dashing Danger Man, the philosophical Phantom Zero, the generous Good Samaritan, and the..uh…mouthy Motor-Mouth! By the end of the show, Razorhawk was declared winner by none other than comic legend Stan Lee himself. Excelsior! 

Real life superheroes with Tea Krulos.Photographs by Paul Kjelland

Razorhawk, the first night I met him in 2009. Photo by Paul Kjelland.

And now, Jack has a more mellow project, but a very cool one. He’s now here, as his motto says, “to chew bubblegum and build models,” but he happens to be “all out of bubblegum.” Now known as the JACK OF MODELS, he has created his own YouTube show in which he carefully builds a variety of car and figure models, shows you how it’s done, and offers a few tricks and tips so you can enjoy this hobby, too.

I’m a fan. You can find the show here:

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv2ZgO3bbhW7rq-CdcYhskw

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackOfModels/

Chicago Ghosts

My most read column this month was a reprinting of a rarely seen article I wrote years ago titled “The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter” on Alexandra Holzer, star of the new reality show The Holzer Files. Just recently I had the chance to profile two interesting paranormal investigators for the October issue of Scandinavian Traveler magazine: Dale Kaczmarek of Ghost Research Society, who has been on the supernatural trail since the 1970s, and Ursula Bielski of Chicago Hauntings, who organizes the annual Chicago Ghost Con. Both have written books and offer tours and are all around experts on Chicago ghostlore.

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Dale Kaczmarek with his map of Chicagoland ghost encounters. Photo from Scandinavian Traveler/ Scott Thompson

You can read the article, “Meet the real-life ghostbusters,” here: https://scandinaviantraveler.com/en/places/meet-the-real-life-ghostbusters

I also compiled Dale and Ursula’s picks for “Chicago’s top 5 haunted locations”: https://scandinaviantraveler.com/en/places/chicagos-top-5-haunted-locations

Denver Airport Conspiracy

Ever since it was built, Denver International has been the subject of several conspiracy theories, including secret tunnels, weird art, a cursed horse statue, Illuminati meetings, and more. It’s pretty wild and every time I fly west, I hope for a layover at the airport.
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While blocking off part of the airport for construction this month, the airport decided that instead of traditional “pardon our dust” signs, they would go full troll with a series of signs alluding to their reputation, including ones that mention the Illuminati, aliens, Reptilians (aka Lizard People), and more. Check out more of the signs here: https://www.curbed.com/2018/9/7/17832102/denver-airport-conspiracy-theories-signs-construction

And if you like conspiracy, well, hang on to your butts because November is Conspiracy Month here at Tea’s Weird Week. I’m doing  some conspiracy related travel mid-November so I’ll be doing some reporting from the road. It’s going to be…interesting.

Follow me here:

Facebook: facebook.com/theTeaKrulos Twitter:@TeaKrulos Instagram: @teakrulos

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Ghost Hunters & Superheroes

I really had fun this weekend. A lot of the time writing (for me, anyway) involves me being anti-social, staying at home at the desk. So when I have a weekend of getting to see friends, old and new, it is a hella cool time for me. My girlfriend Wendy (a talented photographer, who took the photos below– her website is HERE) and I hit the road and visited West Bend and Chicago for a couple of events I was invited to participate in.

Friday, I participated in the Museum Of Wisconsin Art‘s member show, which was superhero themed. I judged a costume contest along with Real Life Superhero The Watchman (one of the subjects of my book Heroes in the Night, available HERE) and fashion designer Miranda Kay Levy, who you might have seen on Project Runway. She asked me to help judge and you know when an acclaimed designer like Miranda asks me for my fashion opinions, we’re in for a rare situation. There were about 10 or 12 entries in the contest and they were all great, very creative.

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Miranda Kay Levy, myself, The Watchman family at the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

I had some waves of nostalgia rolling in to town, as I was briefly a resident of West Bend in 1996. I finished my Senior year of high school there. More importantly, it’s where I met an incredibly unique group of individuals who became my friends. I think my life adventures really began in West Bend.

In addition to the costume contest, I tabled with Heroes in the Night, sold a few copies, and talked with a few people who were genuinely interested in what I was up to. People got to talk with The Watchman, who was there with two of his kids– Wonder Boy and Guardian Girl.
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The next morning, we headed down to the Chicago Ghost Conference. Real Life Superhero Razorhawk (of Minneapolis) had been invited to do a panel on what being a RLSH is all about and he had Chicago RLSH Citizen Prime and Wraith as well as myself as guests. Attendance was low, but we didn’t let it get us down. I got to chat with a couple people I’ve met over the last year or two  who will be featured in my next book, Monster Hunters (out in June 2015, you can pre-order HERE).

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Razorhawk and I talk ghosts and superheroes at the Chicago Ghost Con.

I also met a few new people involved with the field of paranormal investigation. I did an interview with second generation ghost hunter Alexandra Holzer, which will make for a great future article somewhere.  I even got my photo taken with B movie host icon Svengoolie.

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Svengoolie!

I am planning a one day Milwaukee Paranormal Conference for June 6 (see website HERE), so perhaps the best thing I got from the conference was taking a look firsthand at things I thought worked and things I thought did not.

A fun weekend hanging out with a lot of great people I’ve had the fortune of meeting, and in many cases, writing about.

Real Life Superhero themed play, “Superheroes,” debuts in Denver

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A month or two ago I exchanged messages with Leslie C. Lewis, a playwright from Denver, Colorado. She told me that she was writing a short play titled “Superheroes,” which is part of a line-up of short plays sharing a setting called “The Playground.” Lewis’s entry consists of a team of Real Life Superheroes, the “Dark Star Patrol,” having a post-patrol meeting in the early morning hours at the playground.

Lewis told me that reading my book Heroes in the Night was part of her play research and asked me a couple follow up questions while finishing the final draft. She also tells me she is working on an expanded, full length version of the play.

“The Playground” is produced by And Toto Too Theater Company and runs November 6-22 at The Laundry on Lawrence in Denver. More info here: www.leslieclewis.com/leslie-c-lewis-upcoming-events/

Below, check out these awesome pictures of the cast on the set with their personalized copies of Heroes in the Night!
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Top row (L-R): RLSH characters Dr. Intelligent, Brave Fairy, Confucius
Bottom row: Omni, Zygote, Mantis

Heroes in the Night is available here: www.ipgbook.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php and wherever fine books are sold.

A big congrats to And Toto Too Theater Company. Break a leg!

HEROES IN THE NIGHT Auction

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This copy is signed by myself and 45 Real Life Superheroes. The signatures were collected by the author in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. The book was then sent with Razorhawk to San Diego to collect signatures at a mass meet up, HOPE.

All money raised from this auction will be donated to HOPE, an organization that distributes supplies to the homeless.

You can find more info on the book’s eBay auction page: www.ebay.com/itm/131289995764?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Thanks for taking a look!

April Events

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Crusader Prime, one of the C2E2 panelists. Photo from Chicago Tribune.

Hello, my friends, it has been awhile since I posted on my blog here. I’ve been extremely busy working on my next book, doing final interviews, transcribing, research, a million and one little details. It’s going well and I can kind of see the forest from the trees on this project now.

I have two events going on later this month that I’m real happy, real excited about.

First, I’ll be talking about Heroes in the Night at the next MKE Comic Book Meet-up, April 22. This is a cool group in Milwaukee that meets up on a regular basis to discuss comic books. The them for the next one is “Social Issues in Comics” and they kindly asked me to be part of it. The first part of the evening will be a discussion from 6:30-7:45pm about comics that have tackled social issues. People are encouraged to bring comics they’d like to talk about.

I will be talking about Heroes in the Night afterward from 7:45-9pm, particularly focusing on how the subject of the book (Real Life Superheroes) reflect their comic book counterparts. I’ll be showing some slides and I will have copies of the book available for a flat $16. This is going to be a fun time at Anodyne Coffee in Walker’s Point, a nice, casual environment.

Info: Tuesday, April 22, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., 224 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee 53204. Comic discussion 6:30-7:45pm, Presentation by Tea Krulos 7:45-9pm. Free, copies of Heroes in the Night available for $16.
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/292877017537427/

Next, how cool is this– I’ll be hosting a panel at this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2)!

The panel is titled “You Can be a ‘Real Life Superhero!'” I’ll be moderating special guests Razorhawk, the Watchman, Crusader Prime, Crimson Catalyst, and Night Vision. We will also have a couple surprise guests appearing via video message. I will be showing some slides and we will be talking about what this Real Life Superhero business is all about. We also will have a Q & A session with the audience. Hulk Hogan will be at C2E2, but I can’t speculate if he’ll show up for the panel.

This will take place Sunday, April 27 2:30-3:30pm Room S401ab. Afterwards, I will be signing copies of Heroes in the Night at the Chicago Review Press booth from 4-4:45pm.

Besides the panel members, several other RLSH will be attending the con and my inside sources tell me the assembled RLSH will be joining forces and patrolling Chicago, handing out supplies to homeless people as they go. Good work, my super friends, good work!

Info: The panel takes place at C2E2 (South Building at McCormick Place) Sunday, April 27 2:30-3:30pm, book signing follows 4-4:45pm at the Chicago Review Press booth. 

Here is the panel listing on C2E2’s site: http://c2e214.mapyourshow.com/5_0/sessions/sessiondetails.cfm?ScheduledSessionID=18ADCB

A Crazy Fun October

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That’s me with some Real Life Superheroes at a Heroes in the Night promotional appearance at Common Good Books in Saint Paul.

Wow, what a month! I’ve really been burning the candle at both ends.

October 1 was the official release date of my book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement. It was a really proud day for me– I did it! I got a book out, you can find it at a lot of bookstores. It’s also available online here: http://www.ipgbook.com/heroes-in-the-night-products-9781613747759.php?page_id=21

To promote the book, I did four bookstore appearances. I was at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago on 10/05. My big hometown appearance was 10/11 here at Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee. A lot of family and friends were there and we had a fun after party at Stonefly Brewery.

I appeared at Westfield Comics in Madison on 10/19 and Common Good Books in Saint Paul, MN on 10/20. All cool stuff. I was joined by people featured in my book at all stops, so I big thanks to Wraith, Citizen Prime, the Watchman, Geist, Razorhawk, Misery White, and Blue for joining me at Q and A sessions. It was really great to get out, see old friends, and meet new ones, too.

I haven’t seen exact figures, but the publisher tells me the book is doing good. I’ll be continuing to promote it with media appearances through the holidays (and beyond.) Next place I’ll be is here in town for Milwaukee Zine Fest Nov. 9 (website: http://milwaukeezinefest.org/2013/index.php) I’ll have copies of the book and a little zine of wacky poetry I did titled Palookaville.

I’ve also been working hard on my (as yet untitled) second book, which is about people who study the paranormal. I took a hectic trip east to do field work for the book, travelling to West Virginia, Kentucky, Maine, and Florida over a ten day stretch. I’ve been writing about some of this for Onmilwaukee.com. You can read about my Kentucky adventure here:  http://onmilwaukee.com/myOMC/authors/onmilwaukeecomstaffwriters/milwghoststorybobbymackey.html

Last thing I wanted to mention is an article I wrote for Third Coast Daily about Arkham House, a little known but important Wisconsin publishing house. They published the first works by H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury, among others. I worked on it on and off for a long time, and it was well timed to appear just before my favorite holiday, Halloween.

Here’s the article: http://thirdcoastdaily.com/2013/10/the-horror-of-sauk-city-arkham-houses-weird-fiction-legacy/

Below is a picture included in the article of Arkham House founder and prolific Wisconsin writer August Derleth. Happy Halloween!

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August Derleth