The 'Layer-Cake' that is the artistic vision of Joseph Donald Myers.

Joseph Donald Myers was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois during an especially wintry January day in the year of our Lord, 1976. From an absurdly young age he has been fascinated and terrified by the things that only exist in the dark corners of his subconscious.

Until recently, most of these things have been safely locked away. However, following the passing of his beloved mother in July 2008, the demons emerged, as if on cue.

I started following the artistic career of Joseph Donald Myers a few years back and, suffice to say, his work just keeps getting better with each new piece produced. JDM is a prolific artist with an extraordinary talent for turning the banal into the beautifully sublime. His work is both disturbing and yet somehow poetic as each piece tells its own story on many different levels. JDM digitally manipulates old photographs and creates vector designs and renditions which he adds to the work - building layer upon layer until a surreality is produced that combines all of the aspects to form a cohesive and illuminating whole. 

Motifs proliferate; such as: death, childhood, family, horror, pain, beauty and spirituality. There is a real sense of the Gothic in JDM's work, as the eclectic selection and transformation of old sepia-toned photos from a forgotten age shows, the images are not merely chosen for their availability but rather for the dark scope they afford his wonderful imagination. 

On the surface JDM, as a person, appears the 'all-American, golden boy' type. This, of course, is an obvious generalization as his incredibly complex work reflects a much deeper vein that is as much about the artist as his perception of the world around him. One can't help but recognize that his work is saturated with a profound darkness, with the horror of the mundane, the terror of urbanity, and the sheer pain of life ever-present as it rushes headfirst to its ultimate and inevitable destination: death!

Outside of his imagination, Joseph is married to an amazing woman and has three wonderful boys. Previously, he was employed as a graphic designer for a major manufacturing company but has since 'seen the light' and recently started up his own freelance Graphic Design business, JDM Creative Services, LLC. He and his family currently live in the small Wisconsin village known as Grafton.

Joseph hopes to someday die and see what all the fuss is about.

[The following images are a selection of work that he has produced over the last few years. For more links and information about Joseph please check the links at the bottom of this article. All images copyright (c) Joseph Donald Myers 2012]

A Fan Letter to Hollywood actor Campbell Scott
by Joe Myers on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 4:40pm ·
Dear Mr. Scott,

Where do I begin? First and foremost my name is Joseph Myers. I am, amongst other things, a professional graphic designer, a fine artist, a father of 3 wonderful boys, a doting husband, a could-have-been actor, and, perhaps most importantly, a non-stalker. I woke up this morning with an urge to write you a letter because, as of late, I am in the habit of satisfying any non-harmful gut urge that may pass through my mind.

Just to start the kiss-ass ball rolling, I think that your performance in "Singles" was one of the most underrated parts of that fine film, and it made an indelible impression on my 16-year old brain. You were the epitome of cool, and Steve Dunne (warts and all) was someone I could identify with and look up to. Many fond memories surround that part of my adolescence, and the autumn afternoon that I went to the local theatre to see "Singles" with a group of friends (one of whom was a German exchange student, Kati, who I happened to have a huge crush on at the time) can be recalled in all of its minutiae. The smell of Lucky Strike cigarettes. The crisp Wisconsin air. Kati's perfume ("Joop", I believe it was called). And Steve, in all of his fallible cool glory, trying his damnedest to capture the heart of one Miss Linda Powell. Everything about that movie fit perfectly into my life at the time. I'm so glad Mr. Crowe committed his creativity to film in such a beautiful way, and you were perfectly cast.

At the same time, I was waist-deep in a Stephen King obsession. A student of all things wonderfully morbid, I read all of his books multiple times, memorizing the flow of text on the pages of the paperback versions, knowing intimately the scent of the relatively cheap ink used to print those bad boys. I was never without a dogeared copy of one of Mr. King's novels, it seemed. He could do no wrong in my mind. He was able to tap into the exact vein of horror that was firmly routed through my subconscious, and his powerful imagery worked hand in hand with my blooming artistic sensibilities. But the one novel that stands out to this day as his most important work is "The Shining". Both this novel, and to a slightly lesser extent Kubrick's vision, were a consistent part of the fabric of my life. I read it for the first time at the age of 11, probably a bit too young to understand the finer points, but I certainly "got it". By the time I was 14, I had read the book at least half a dozen times. And, more importantly(?), it was around that time that I snuck my first beer from the basement fridge.

So, yada yada yada I'm now a recovering alcoholic. A good chunk of my life (1993-2010) revolved around, to a rather large extent, how to catch a buzz. Especially from booze. Things began to get out of control shortly after I was married in 2004, and came to a head (or "rock bottom") in September 2010. I have been sober for almost 15 months now and, as a result, all aspects of my life – professional, creative and family – are profoundly good in more ways than I can describe. Two very important things fell by the wayside during my Hiatus From The Real Me: the devotion to my artwork and my love for reading.

The artwork thing is back in full effect, the prolonged mental incubation coupled with much life experience having resulted in a creative rebirth that has become a driving force. The reading thing… not so much, regrettably.

That brings me to last week when I was perusing iTunes and saw the audiobook of "The Shining" (performed by you!) available for purchase. I thought it was about time to revisit the Torrance family, considering the eerie similarities that had formed between me and Jack; namely the alcoholism, an anger problem, marital issues, a creative blockage, and the struggles and joys of raising a 5-year old son who is precocious (to say the least). While no "Shine" seems to be present at the moment, there are other aspects of his personality that are uncannily similar to Danny's, too vague to put a point on at the moment, but definitely there. Bottom line, I have just crossed the halfway point of your performance, and to say that I am blown away is an understatement. Your rich tones and excellent diction (cold and objective and chilling) are a perfect match for my own "mental reading voice". And the timing couldn't be better, as many things have been falling into place since I stopped drinking (go figure!!!). Your amazing performance is the perfect soundtrack for my life at this moment in time.

So why am I pouring my heart out to you, Mr. Scott? Maybe it's because you seem like a pretty cool guy. Or perhaps I'm thinking you may be a bit more receptive to a fan letter than the Almighty Mr. King would be. Either way, I needed to write these words, and I'm hoping you will eventually read them. I have no idea what will become of my fine art "career", or if I'll even live to see tomorrow, but I do know that your voice, Mr. King's writing and my life, creative and otherwise, are woven together; a layer in the composite fabric of time space. And I couldn't be happier.

Joseph D. Myers

Joseph Donald Myers - Full Biography:

"Born to unsuspecting parents on a snowy night in late 1970s Chicago Heights.

My current body of work, which I began in early 2009, is an almost direct response to the death of my mother. Although the Number One Champion of my artwork, Mrs. Linda Myers did not, however, enjoy my more sinister sensibilities. “Why don’t you do something nice?” she’d ask on a regular basis. “Because I don’t really know how”, I’d reply. As I struggled with the idea that she was no longer physically present, I also realized that I could explore death and dying (and the beauty that surrounds it) to my heart’s content without the worry of disappointing her. Sounds strange, especially since my mom was/is The Most Amazing Mother a son could have asked for and her loss is a void that will never truly be filled. All the same, she taught me how to find silver linings in the strangest of places. The result has been close to 200 unique pieces since April of 2009.

My creative process is relatively complex, albeit one that has become deeply intuitive over the past few years. My essential goal to tap into the deep fears of my childhood as well as the fears I have developed as an adult. It all starts with a scavenger hunt of sorts. I scour the internet for images that involve, but are not limited to: death, dying, old portraits, wars, mouths and teeth, insanity, deformity, landscapes, insects that scare me (especially wasps), aggressive animals, humanity in general… the list could go on and on. I will also photograph parts of my own body or use original nature photography if there’s a certain “something” I’m attempting to capture. Then, like an improvisational chef or musician (or Dr. Frankenstein), I start assembling bits and pieces of the images that have spoken to me using Photoshop. Many times I will create separate illustrations that will fill in certain gaps or add to the overall effect. If there is any need for text in the piece I will hand draw and scan that as well. Sometimes I attempt to incorporate a theme, other times the themes emerge like long-silenced screams from the past. I want to present to the world unique images that are at once familiar and terribly alien; comforting and disturbing; beautiful and terrifying. I want to welcome you into my brightly-lit home on a pleasant Spring morning, then slam the door, turn out the lights and strap you to a chair with eyelids held open forcing you to see what lurks in the dark, mad corners of the universe.

Or something like that."

Find Joseph and his amazing work at the following links:

SURREAL GROTESQUE (online magazine)

Buy JDM prints here.

Introducing Katie Dirge - Owner/Publisher of 'Black Sunday Zine'

Hi everyone, recently I had the pleasure of meeting and working with the fabulous Katie Dirge. Ms Dirge produces the publication, 'Black Sunday Zine. Katie was kind enough to publish some of my work and in turn I would like to introduce you to her and what she does. She is a very interesting lady with a penchant for the dark macabre and I recommend you check out all the links at the bottom of the page. 

Katie Dirge – from ‘The House of Dirge’ website introduction:

“Katie is my real name, Dirge isn’t. My love of the Victorian era and its death customs inspired me to take a name that reflects my love and interest. A dirge is commonly known as a song that is played at a funeral or a mournful poem or other literary work. The latter is the true reflection of both myself and my writing. This is not to say I do not like my birth name, I just like to keep my family life and my work separate.

I began writing at an early age, I begun as a poet and then moved into writing fiction. As the years went on I was published in a national magazine on a regular basis and then I started up my own publication in the form of a zine. Black Sunday Zine gives me the chance to write some interesting pieces and interview artists and writers. In the past it has featured pieces on cemeteries, satanists, hearses, horror films, zombies… the list goes on.

I am heavily tattooed and I only dress in black. I have been called “eccentric” and “different” which I can only take as a compliment. I have a fake stuffed crow called One Eyed Eric, I collect candles, I dry roses, enjoy draping everything in red velvet, I buy weird art, I love drinking copious amounts of tea, I love self-published works, I like taking photographs, I collect notebooks and I love religious imagery.”

Black Sunday Zine is Katie’s baby (slightly macabre baby at that!).

Black Sunday was born out of a lack of dark zines that covered the morbid, the macabre and heavy metal - all in one publication. So I wrote some pieces and then decided to get some really interesting and talented people involved like Loren Rhoads; writer and editor of the magazine Morbid Curiosity, artist Chuck Hodi, writer and artist William Cook and various others. No subject goes untouched. I have featured pieces on graveyards, satanists, zombies, hearses, horror films and lots more. As much as I enjoy writing the content I am always open to suggestions in the form of weird tales (both fiction and non-fiction), macabre features and poetry. 

Heavy metal is my kind of music and is pretty much my soundtrack for life so it only felt right to include this. I openly invite unsigned bands to feature and I review new and old CD’s as a way of promotion and hopefully introducing readers to an album they have yet to discover! The House of Dirge is my emporium that quite literally houses Black Sunday Zine and soon there will be other items available that will include dark prints and chapbooks. You can get yourself a copy at and follow the links to the shop and the blog. 

Joseph Myers - brilliant artist.

I have the pleasure of working with Joe on an upcoming project. Be sure to check out the video and share it with your art-hungry, horror-lovin', surrealist, psycho, pals! Will have a feature on Joe and his work shortly along with another about Katie Dirge, the ghost in the machine at Black Sunday Zine.

William Cook - Writer: RJ Parker – True Crime Author – Interview

William Cook - Writer: RJ Parker – True Crime Author – Interview:

RJ Parker – True Crime Author – Interview

RJ Parker

RJ Parker resides in Canada where he spends his time doing what he loves best, reading and writing. However, writing is relatively new since becoming disabled with Anklyosing Spondylitis. He spent 30 years in various facets of management and has a professional designation and is a proud single parent of two teenage girls, as well as twin sons who are 26. RJ Parker has written 7 True Crime books that deal with all manner of criminals and their heinous crimes. His books are all in the genre of True Crime yet deal with such diverse subjects as Spree Killers, top FBI cases, Serial Killers - solved and unsolved, Female Serial Killers, School Shootings and murderous Doctors, including #1 Best Sellers - 'Women Who Kill' & 'Unsolved Serial Killings.'

The following is an interview I did with RJ Parker recently.

RJ Parker, true crime author, talks with William Cook

WC: How did you get into writing about True Crime?

RJP: I have been an avid reader for over 30 years and really enjoyed fictional stories that included serial murders. I also read all of John Douglas books, who is my FBI hero, and he coined much of the terminology used today when talking about serial killers. I don't have much of an imagination so I never attempted fiction, and I wanted to write after reading thousands of books, so I decided to write on what I know best, serial killers.

WC: What draws you to a certain subject? That is, what are the essential things that you look for in determining what will make a good/valid True Crime story or book?

RJP: There have been many serial killers in our history, it's not hard to pick certain individuals, there's an endless list. In my first book, Unsolved Serial Killings, I focused on the ones that got away which really intrigued me. SK's then could literally get away with murder because law enforcement lacked technical skills, not like today with DNA and Behavioral Science, Profiling etc. I also picked the topic of women because they are the least likely to become a serial killer, however, there have been many. People want to read about serial killers who killed many. They are not interested in the ones who only have 3 kills..they like 30 better. It makes for a better read, which is sad, but true. People are fascinated with true crime in numbers.

WC: As a True Crime author you deal with a lot of disturbing subject matter in your work, has this impacted on your own life in any way? If so, how do you distance yourself from the more negative aspects of life as a True Crime author?

RJP: William, when I was writing No Killing in the Hallways, I was an emotional wreck. Being a parent of two teenage girls in school, and to research and write about what happened at V. Tech and Columbine, was draining. My daughters haven't read the book and I don't want them to. They actually only read parts of FBI and Unsolved. My most memorable time was writing about Dahmer. The following is an excerpt from Case Closed: Serial Killers Captured and it broke my heart to write it:

“In the wee hours of May 27th, 1991, Konerak Sinthasomphone, fourteen, was discovered wandering naked on the street, heavily drugged and bleeding from his rectum. Two young women from the neighborhood found the confused young boy and called 911. Dahmer chased after the boy to take him back to his apartment, but the women stopped him. When the police arrived, Dahmer told them that Sinthasomphone was his nineteen-year-old boyfriend, and they’d had an argument while drinking. The two women were not pleased and protested, but the two police officers turned the boy over to Dahmer. The police later reported a strange smell inside Dahmer's apartment, but did not investigate it. The smell was the body of Tony Hughes, Dahmer's previous victim, decomposing in the bedroom. The two policemen did not try to verify the boy’s age and also failed to run the background check that would have revealed Dahmer as a convicted child molester, registered sex offender, and still on probation. Later that night, Dahmer killed and dismembered the young lad, keeping his skull as a souvenir. Author Note: Officers Joseph P. Gabrish and John A. Balcerzak were fired after this incident but appealed and were re-instated.”

WC: How do you choose your subject/s when it seems as though there are so many accounts of the same crimes available, especially the more notorious cases involving Serial Killers and high profile crimes? That is, how do you make your books stand out from the rest?

RJP: Many books are written about 'a' serial killer, but mine are compilations of serial killers or spree killers. If someone wants to read all about Bundy, they will buy a Bundy book. If they want to read about 15 or 20 summary files of various serial killers, I have good choices for them; Women, Unsolved, Children, Doctors etc., then if a person finds one or two that they would like to read more about, there's books out there on individual cases.

WC: Do you plan to, or have you ever, interviewed any of the more infamous/bizarre criminals in your books? In terms of reliable source material, is it best as a True Crime author to stick to validated accounts like court transcripts and previously published materials?

RJP: I would love to interview a serial killer some day but I haven't yet. The dregs of society I wrote about so far I think are all dead: either killed in prison, death sentence or old age. As for spree killers, they most always kill themselves. It is better to stick with Court documents, FBI archieves etc., that are released under the Freedom of Information Act, unless, one gets the rare opportunity to interview a killer such as John Douglas has. He really wrote the book on SK's and has interviewed and analyzed the minds of dozens of them.

WC: Where do you gather your source material from and what is the process you use when researching your subject before drafting your work?

RJP: I've contacted the FBI and have been given quite a bit of information, as well from their archieves. Some things get blacked out however. The FBI policy on extracting information is that you have to rephrase or edit every paragraph, or, every 40 words. If the perp is captured and sentenced, than court documentation is a great source and very explicit in detail. If someone is interested in writing, those are two avenues plus, contacting the local police station that investigated the crime and if the case is closed, they will give you a summary of the crime but not crime scene pictures unfortunately.

WC: What are some of the issues involved with writing True Crime accounts? For example, are there copyright requirements involved in quoting news/source materials and using images etc?

RJP: If you obtain information from the FOIA FBI archieves, you don't have to source it. If you obtain bits and pieces from a newspaper article for instance, you have to source it. As for images, I only use images that are public domain. When you click on an image, it will state whether it's copyright protected. If not, it's public domain and free for the using.

WC: Do you ever worry that the people/criminals you write about revel in their notoriety and the infamy generated by media interest?

RJP: At this point, no, because anyone I've written about so far is already dead. Unless it's an unsolved serial killer which I would have no idea how they feel about their notoriety. Most serial killers do like their moment in the media and enjoyed being coined a name, such as the Green River Killer or the BTK.

WC: I notice in most of your books, you always acknowledge the victims of the crimes you analyse. Most, if not all, of the crimes dealt with in your various case studies are crimes against others, ie. they all leave a trail of victims behind. How do you deal with the victimology of these cases? It must be hard to represent the victims in these cases while being impartial when outlining the crimes themselves, how do you find the ‘middle ground,’ so to speak?

RJP: Good question. I grew up in a Christian home, my father has been a pastoral minister for 57 years. I feel for each and every one of those victims. Yes I write about the killers and the killings because it's a fact, I wish it wasn't, but it did happen. However, they will not get the glory from me. At the end of each case file, I list the victim, their age, and sometimes a little info about them with a prayer for their souls. By way of this interview, I am announcing for the first time, that I have been in contact with the Canadian Resouce Center for Victims of Crime and I am pledging 10% of all my royalties.

WC: Have you ever had any mentoring or formal training as a True Crime author? There seems to be a certain type of instinct, or investigative style, needed to be effective as a writer in this genre – can anyone be a True Crime author?

RJP: Sure, I guess anyone can be a writer, but it takes a different person to write about true crime. Not a harder person without feelings, because that's not the case with us TC writers. To be able to separate yourself emotionally from the criminals and the victims is tough, but essential. There isn't any training for a TC writer really. If you have good organizational skills and can put your own spin on things, you can do it. I have two professional designations in management so I'm very organized. I guess those skills helped me in writing these books.

WC: Who do you look up to or admire as a True Crime author? Can you recommend any other authors/specialists in your field, and any other books, that stand out to you as exemplars of the genre?

RJP: First and foremost, John Douglas is my favorite. Since I was a young boy, I always wanted to be an FBI Agent from watching the show at the time, The FBI starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (who is 93 years young). I found out in my early teens that I couldn't be with the FBI because I was Canadian...what a disappointment, I still remember it. Getting back to John Douglas, I really enjoyed his books: Mind Hunters, Inside the Mind of BTK, Obsession, and The Cases that Haunt Us. He has other books, but those were my favorite and inspiration to write. Other great authors are: Gary King, Brian King, Ann Rule and Jack Olsen, just to name a few.

WC: What are you working on currently and do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

RJP: I am working on a couple of new books. One is about cops who turned serial killer, and the other is about children who killed their parents. I am also going to write volume 2 of Unsolved Serial Killings but with more international content.

WC: Finally, what advice would you give for anyone thinking of writing True Crime and publishing in today’s market place? Is self-publishing the way to go, what would you recommend?

RJP: I wrote my books over many years and had no intentions of self-publishing. I was holding out for a publisher and the book was going to be about 500 pages, called, Playpen to Prison. However, a friend and famous NY best selling author of over 80+ books convinced me to self publish in November. I tell you, it's been a learning curve because I no sooner had the books up on other markets, when I retracted them all after Amazon announced the Select Program. It's been interesting and I have mixed views on this program. Self-publishing is definately the way to go. Why spread the royalties around with agents and publishers? Like newspapers being replaced with the internet; paperbacks and hardcopies are being replaced by digital format and it has only just begun. So I say, if you have a book to publish, get it edited and hop on the E-Book train. I also suggest not to put all your eggs in one basket. There are many venues out there and if you want more exposure, spread the book around. Currently, only people who own a kindle can buy my books, which as I said earlier, is a learning experience, er, mistake.

Personal message from RJ Parker:

"The author will gift his books FREE from the Kindle Store to Canadian, U.S., UK or Allied Soldiers, Police Officers, Firefighters, EMT's, Correctional Officers, etc., who are actively serving or retired. Please send a message to the email address below telling the author who you are, and the book(s) you would like to read. It is a privilege and honor to give back in kindness to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much to help keep us safe. Blessings to you all."

For more info on RJ PArker and his books check out the following links:

Amazon Author's page:
Twitter: @authorrjparker

Check out my review of RJ Parker's 'Women Who Kill' on
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