Bizarro fiction has changed my life. I believe I can say that without exaggeration or sentimentality. Writing in the genre has freed me from constantly censoring my work because it’s “too weird,” allowing me to write what I want to write. Reading it has taken me to new worlds that I never thought possible, introduced me to some of my favorite books. It is the community, however, that has had the greatest impact. Today, I wanted to take a look at my bizarro experience.
I mentioned how I accidentally stumbled across the genre on Twitter in my article How I Discovered Bizarro Fiction. Even then, I knew I had made the discovery of a lifetime. I started buying every bizarro book recommended to me, exploring the works of Carlton Mellick III, Danger Slater, and Kevin L. Donihe. I gobbled up the four volumes of The Bizarro Starter Kit like an obese geriatric at Old Country Buffet. The genre these books painted only furthered my obsession.
It was at BizarroCon, however, where I decided that I wanted this to be my life. I wanted to dedicate my time, effort, and creativity to this genre. It was the authors, artists, and readers there that cemented this. There are few groups of people as welcoming as the bizarro community. Though I meant to observe from the sidelines, these people pulled me in and made me one of their own. Bert Stanton and Ian Kappos guided me through the convention. Bert explained he was paying it forward as someone had done for him and encouraged me to do the same next year.
Previously in my mind, authors occupied the plane of demigods, beings on an exclusive level that I would never reach until I published a successful book. The bizarro community shattered this falsehood. I could read books I loved and communicate with the authors as one would a chum. I must admit, it took a while for my brain to process this, as I scaled back my admiration and worship to see these authors as human beings.
More than conventions or Twitter, it is through my blog that I have come to know the bizarro community and their work. What started as a one time review/interview with Charles Austin Muir became my Featured Author segment. I’ve been able to pick the minds of some of my favorite authors and get to know others I knew little about. And I’ve discovered some great books in the process.
As in every group, there are politics, gossip, and infighting, as I first witnessed at the infamous Bizarro Showdown incident. Some people are friendlier than others, some vain, some socially awkward. But there is no other community I would rather be a part of. There are so many people who have been kind and generous to me on this bizarro adventure. The list is enormous, but you know who you are.
Psychiatrists and psychologists over the years have told me to return to one of my happiest memories whenever I feel down. For me, that is sitting on the couches of the Ad House, slightly buzzed from Jason Rizos’ home-crafted beer, in a room packed with bizarros. I picture Garrett Cook in his purple hat, holding court, while anecdotes and jokes and ideas flow freely, a conversation like a soup made by a dozen different chefs. And by remembering that, I smile. No matter how much crap goes on in my life, I know I have bizarro fiction.