And now, a guest post by a fella named S.A. Hunt, who is a cracking author you probably aren’t reading. His newest is Malus Domestica — I just opened this book up the other day thinking I’d just take a peek, and next thing I knew, I was like, 30 pages in. Amazing prose. Reminds me of some of the most classic horror writers. Hunt has a storyteller’s ear, as you’ll see below.
Some people collect action figures.
I collect people.
I don’t know how you feel about that first point. Action figures. Some of you will probably think it’s childish, or a waste of money, or both of those.
Some of you might throw down a dollar for that janky old Optimus Prime or loose-hipped Skeletor that you used to have twenty-five years ago, lurking in a thrift shop’s toy aisle. Some of you will drop a paycheck on a superdeluxe polyresin Batman from Korea with a cloth cape and thirty-six articulation points and four interchangeable faces so realistic you’d swear the figure contained an actual miniaturized human soul.
I still live where I grew up, a stone’s throw from the real river featured in Deliverance, but I wasn’t that quintessential uphill-both-ways kid that had to play with sticks and bugs, although I did own an impressive armory of gnarled branches. One of them was a three-foot stick as straight as a pool cue with a top end that hooked like a dragon’s talon. I hung a soapstone pendant inside the crescent, burned sigils into the shaft with a magnifying glass, and called it my wizard staff.
No, I had a whole entourage of action figures. He-Man and M.A.S.K. and Dino-Riders; Thundercats, Silverhawks, Ghostbusters, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; X-Men, Ronin Warriors, and Batman, and finally, the ultimate bauble, LEGO. I loved them all, usually to the exclusion of the world around me. Whenever I had a tiny plastic Leonardo (the original Playmates line, of course, bow-legged and wielding brown swords) or Wolverine (yellow and blue spandex, with retractable claws) in my hands, that was the only thing that existed for me.
(Speaking of Leonardo’s swords, in middle school my Harley-riding father, who could pass for a Sons of Anarchy extra and whose only hobbies were turning rattlesnakes into belts and keeping Anheuser-Busch in business, would buy me an honest-to-God samurai sword at a swap meet. As schoolboys are wont to do, I accidentally stuck it in my thigh in eighth grade—the first of many self-inflicted war wounds—and ruined a pair of pants. But that’s another story for another day.)
Some of the best parts of getting a new action figure was reading the story on the back. You might say it was their BACKSTORY, hahaaaaa.
- This blue guy is the team’s mechanic, trained in the art of Ninjitsu from the age of four
- This girl was raised by howler monkeys and was taught how to melt steel with nothing but her voice
- This one can fly and talk to birds because he is the son of the bird god
- This dude with permanent goggles rides Tyrannosaurs in his spare time and his favorite food is eggplant casserole
- This man is made of snakes because fuck you
And then I’d ogle the pictures of the other toys in that crowd of heroes and villains and wonder what their backstories were. Sometimes I would make them up. Moss Man spent too much time swimming in the moat and now he’s covered in moss. Slithe is six years divorced. The only thing that can beat this giant glow-eyed skeleton demon full of naked viscera is a quick wit. Lion-O prefers to bathe himself.