Good Cryptkeeping: Blood Moon Edition!
When I was younger, I worked at a used bookstore for eleven years peddling books and comics to the masses, and one of my strongest memories of that experience was what would happen when Oprah Winfrey released her latest ‘book club selection’. People would flock by the droves, people who didn’t even like to read, to snatch a copy and while most of them read it, I’m sure some people just snagged it because of her say-so. I wondered what it would be like to have that kind of power; I’ve spent most of my life trying to experiment with independent brands and supporting small businesses every chance I get. The horror community is a funny thing; it’s always been commercial to a degree. As soon as ad execs figured out ages ago that putting a vampire on a cereal box or having a werewolf wear Reeboks would result in sales spiking, marketing teams have been trying to appeal to the horror crowd. As well we know, when we have money, we spend it; we’re all looking for the next exclusive variant figure of our favorite slasher or anticipating the new releases on our favorite t-shirt site. But the small businesses are doing great stuff too, and it’s entirely possible they’re going under your radar--- easy to happen with so many great companies out there and so many conventions, etc. So that’s part of why I founded Good Cryptkeeping; I wanted to make a place where we could celebrate and highlight these small businesses who are doing their part to keep infusing fresh blood into the horror community.
With that being said… I’m going to live out my Oprah fantasy, ya’ll. I’m going to give you a list of my current favorite ‘finds’ in the horror community, and maybe you’ll find something awesome to toss in your shopping basket to make your house and life a little bit spookier!
1. LeFab Geeks pride themselves in their cool candles, which run the gamut from video game inspired to, of course, spooky movies (we wouldn’t be here if they weren’t!). Run by a mother-daughter team, LeFab prides itself on hand-poured soy candles done in small batches to ensure the best quality control and they are constantly turning out cool new products and ideas for scents. One of their best is “The Dead Walk in Georgia”, which carries the scent of an old barn, that dry dusky wood smell mixed with the salty undertone of sweat. It’s very true to scent, reminding me of a lot of summers in Texas playing in fields or going into abandoned buildings. It may sound weird but there’s kind of a ‘stillness’ to the candle; you anticipate hearing cicadas in the dry heat, the rustle of dead grass as something comes toward you. Could be a tomcat or a rattlesnake moving through the shadows… or maybe something a little more sinister, and with more of an appetite. If you’ve ever wanted to smell like Rick Grimes and his merry band of survivors, this is the candle for you. They run sales periodically (right now several scents are 10% off and all orders over $50 include free US shipping) and the candles make awesome gifts as well since they come in cute packaging with great label art.
2. Bedlam Supply Company is my latest obsession and I don’t really want to discuss how much money I have spent at this little online store. This is THE online destination for horror papercraft; whether you’re looking for unique stickers, party invitations or banners to hang, Bedlam has you covered. I snagged a huge pack of stickers, including some based on the old horror advertisements you used to see in the back pages of the scary magazines, as well as a garland made of the old Ben Cooper-style Halloween masks to string across the top of my bathroom mirror. Sidenote: the stickers are not waterproof, so they wouldn’t work on your car, but they look amazing on my laptop case, my notebook, and the side of my collectors’ cabinet. But while they offer a huge selection of stickers, buttons, garlands and other fun things, my current favorite buy I’ve made this month is this set of stationery based on the infamous Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. As kids, we all grew up with these, traumatized by the series’ fabulous smudgy black illustrations, and you really can’t beat a set of stationary based on them. You get a set of ten notecards with matching envelopes, all of them on heavy high-quality paper that’s hand-stained to give it an aged, creepy appearance, and you can even email the shop owner Ginger to request a custom mix of certain designs if you don’t want an assortment.
3. Based just outside of Dallas, Texas is an artist named Ryan Sheffield who does incredible artwork based primarily on famous authors and figures. Ryan has put his signature pieces on everything from glass candles to prints, but his Ritual Abuse tarot deck series makes for striking conversation pieces to be sure. He’s also done dust jackets which are his own take on classics like A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451 and Lord of the Flies, with my personal favorites being the latter or his spin on American Psycho. I had the luck of meeting Ryan at a local comic convention and snagging several of his pieces to display in my home.
4. When it comes to bath products, it seems like everyone and their mom is making bath bombs and soaps these days, so it’s even more awesome when you find someone who has figured out a way to really stand out from the crowd and do something special. That’s where Psycho Bombers comes in. Psycho Bombers have managed to not only make some high-quality bath bombs, but they are so unique, fun and creative that you almost don’t want to throw them in your bathtub. They’re genuinely works of art. From a HUGE anatomical human heart (seriously, it’s bigger than my hand even with all the fingers spread out wide) to an amazing poisoned apple inspired by ‘Snow White’ that has the most decadent dessert-style pie scent I’ve ever smelled, the sculpting, detail work and painting on these bombs is to die for. But my personal favorite is an item you have to search their listings a bit to find, due to its nature; when I opened my box from Psycho Bombers I unwrapped a certain piece of tissue paper to find a bath bomb called The Bobbitt, named and fashioned after a certain infamous piece of severed anatomy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they sent me a dick in a box. What’s better is, it’s perfectly sculpted and brightly painted with white and purple swirls, with a delightful scent; it would be an amazing gag gift for anyone with a twisted sense of humor, but it’s also an awesome bomb that makes you smell great. They have other bombs that release rose petals and such into the water as they dissolve; all in all, the slightly-higher price for these bombs is more than offset by their insane quality and artistic value.
5. Have you ever wished you were a werewolf? (I mean, who hasn’t?) Or maybe something a little more cuddly, like a cat, a bear, or a rabbit? If costume ears are up your alley, check out Bucky’s Backyard, which makes animal ear headbands for cosplayers and those who just like to rock a little feral fashion. The ears are wired so that they can be bent or shaped to your personal desire, and the headbands are soft and comfortable. The fur is faux, of course, and impossibly luxurious and fluffy, with hand-airbrushing and detail design by shop owner and designer Jackson. The ears often feature details like piercing jewelry, skulls, beads, feathers, and even tribal-style tattoos in some cases. All of the ears are one of a kind and ship with excellent packaging and a care to detail that has become a trademark; I myself am lucky enough to own some of the tribal hyena ears and they couldn’t be cuter or more comfortable to wear. They have become extremely popular with convention-goers, cosplayers, anime and horror fans, and lifestyle fur fans and thus they do sell out very quickly, so keep your eye on their instagram for updates and information on new and upcoming releases. Approaching Halloween, the shop will be featuring a lot more ‘spooky’ ear options, and they’re sure to be a scream!
6. When it comes to awesome soap, you can’t really beat AJ’s Sweet Soap for creativity and ‘what the hell?!’ factor. While the shop offers tons of options of interesting shapes, scents and styles, the thing they have in common is their realism and the detail in these bizarre little bars. AJ’s makes soaps in the likeness of everything from chicken nuggets to cupcakes, but they have a sizeable horror collection that make the most amazing gifts or stocking stuffers I can imagine. We actually purchased a bunch of them to use as giveaways for horror trivia, and people were in amazement at how cool and unique everything was. Fandoms like The Walking Dead, Stranger Things and American Horror Story will find great nods for their soap dishes. Among the items we snagged? A bar of soap shaped like Negan’s beloved bat Lucille, a Mason jar of soap that smells like whiskey and is meant to be Daryl’s moonshine, and this gnarly steak that represents the Butchery on Main from American Horror Story: Cult; it even has grill marks painted on it and smells like steak sauce when you use it. And I can’t think of a horror fan alive who wouldn’t appreciate scrubbing themselves with something that looks like a ripped-out kidney or a severed zombie head, can you?
Well, boils and ghouls, that’s it for this time— I hope you enjoyed this list, because I certainly enjoyed shopping it! Stay tuned; I’m dedicated to bringing you the best of the indie horror-themed shops to scratch that itch and help you stay creepy all year round! Until then--- Friday, July 27 is the biggest and longest eclipse this century, so you know what they say. Stay on the road, keep clear of the moors… and beware the moon. If you survive, I’ll see you next time with more goodies designed to disgust and delight!