Before we get into this, I’ll admit, this article is going to be a lot of horn tooting and talking about myself as both a metal lover and a writer and how those two things come together for me to create my art. If, for some reason, you don’t support independent artists promoting themselves online to make what is essentially a payless hobby into a dream career, then don’t read this article (and kindly fuck yourself into a coma). Basically, if you’re a fan of metal or any underground music genre at all, then you should be familiar with the struggle of self promotion and should feel good supporting the artists you love even if that just means sharing their music with your friends and colleagues. In short, yes I took the time to beg nearly a hundred of my favorite bands to read my manuscript and tell me what they thought and I’m grateful for the twenty or so blurbs I received out of those hundred requests. In short, I am so happy for receiving help and encouragement from some of my heroes and I am extremely happy to be able to help promote their projects by having their names in my chapbook. This is the true spirit of metal music; the closely knit groups of people who are all too familiar with the struggle of creating obscure art in a world that does not like or want them, and that is essentially the spirit of the graphic poetry chapbook I’ve named Skull Kids.
To start, a bit about the book: Skull Kids is a graphically captured collection of narrative poetry that follows two distinct characters in their separate journeys through the same forest, searching for each other and culminating in their eventual meeting. It is a story inspired by the horror genre, Midwestern contemporary mythology and loosely reinvents the folklore of the skull kids, a supernatural phenomenon made famous by The Legend of Zelda series of video games.
In order to learn about how my love for music ties into something that has almost no association to metal, you need to know me a little more.
I am an extremely angry, dissatisfied individual. I am lonely and take medication for anxiety, acid reflux, and migraines. I’m a quiet guy that likes to make people laugh. I haven’t had any really traumatic childhood experiences, no more scrapes or blood lost than any other white suburban kid, so admitting something is wrong with me becomes very difficult and I often feel like I’m creating problems that don’t exist. Everyone deals with emotional rollercoasters like this. When you’re a teen, people call it angst. When you’re twenty-something they call it severe depression. So on and so forth. The important thing to consider is how you deal with it, because you will deal with it eventually. For me, music and writing are these vents. Metal music, even in the comfort of my room at night, can tense up my muscles and stretch my senses to near exploding before wearing me out under the chugging thrums of sonic anger. I can feel all of the musicians’ emotions pouring out of their art. It helps me understand that I am not the only person who wakes up like this every day. I am not the only person who is disgusted with a majority of the people he meets or speaks to. I am not the only person who sees each day as another long trial in a series of seemingly infinite landscapes on loop over years of experience. I channel this kind of empathy to my writing. If they can do it with music, what would the difference be in channeling the same bottled anger, the same cries of the lost into my own version of a metal song? Songs, after all, are only poetry with musical accompaniment.
To end the article I wanted to offer some proof of how far I’ve gone to make this the most metal-accessible reading experience. Here are pleasant words from a few of my favorite artists who enjoyed the book:
“A certain sense of wonder and primitive melancholy is apparent in Dylan’s writing. Whether you’re a fan of the Zelda games or not is entirely irrelevant upon reading such moving poetry as The Skull Kids. Dylan has tapped into something here which should be beyond familiar to anyone that’s experienced the very real sensation of loss or separation. Intriguing stuff!”
– David Porter, Ageless Oblivion
“A fearless lyrical exploration of the fantastical and the everyday, Dylan Sanders’ Skull Kids: Poetry to Read Alone in the Woods, stands as thoughtful homage to the wild, beautiful and grotesque imaginings of nature and the human mind.”
-Alxs Ness, Abriosis
“Never have I wanted to be lost amongst the pines more. The skull kids hide in every shadow for all of us, it’s best not to keep them waiting. Dive in and get lost in this great prose.”
– Jesse Madre, Tiger Flowers
“Skull Kids careens madly from stunning images of nature to horrifying recognitions of inhumanity. It is a wildly original and interesting read.”
-Nick Lee, Moon Tooth
“Mystical, darkly poetic and emotive. Showcasing the instinct of the mind to wonder into the unknown, discovering that things are never as they seem.”
-Jared Christianson, Arkaik
“Sanders’s poetry is a dark and beautiful take on nostalgic themes reminiscent of stories and videogames that shaped my adolescence. Fantastical yet easily relatable, Skull Kids: Poetry to Read Alone in the Woods quickly topped my list of graphic novels to be excited about”
-Robert Edens, Native Construct
“Following the voices of three stories intertwined, Skull Kids: Poetry to Read Alone in the Woods pulls the reader into a dark world of myths, love, and fate taking root in the folklore of modern gaming culture and splaying its branches outward and upward to the sparcely-trodden paths of our imaginations. Thick with mystery and rich with intrigue, prepare to find yourself lost in these pages time and time again.”
– Riley McShane, Son of Aurelius
Skull Kids is currently still in production. I am hoping for a late 2015/ early 2016 release. Copies will be limited as the print run will be small. Copies will be available on Amazon after the release. Preorders and copies will be available for $12 (without shipping) through my email at [email protected] If you would like to keep up to date with me, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Stay metal, folks!