Short Story Review: “Death Wore Greasepaint” by Josh Finney

3 of 5 stars.

Lovecraft’s worship and rising of Cthulhu has been evoked by many authors across many anthologies paying homage to the writer of horror and the occult. This tale finds an original spin leaning into drugs, alcohol, the impressionability of youth, and the influence of media. The combination imagines one of the most inappropriate children’s shows of all times and the role it plays in the lives of children when their parents aren’t playing a role.

Charlie is a barely functioning alcoholic television producer relegated to the periphery of Michigan to run a small market station after a sex scandal ruined his first marriage and first crack at a career. He’s on his second wife and thousandth bottle of Dewars. His wife’s ex-con, druggie brother is writing and starring in the locally produced clown kids’ hour for the station as Wacky Wilbur.

Wilbur says horrifically inappropriate things on air. He also has been teaching the town’s children the occult language of the Cthulhu Rising Rite and the accompanying mythos through his character, The Octopus King. Without other obvious role models, the kids are eating it up and growing savage . . .

This tale appears in Whispers from the Abyss edited by Kat Rocha, the author of this tale. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through I’ve previously reviewed a few of this author’s interesting graphic novels: Casefile: ARKHAM, Utopiates, and World War Kaiju.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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