A pleasure to be here, so to speak…
I am so excited to be talking with you. Tell us a bit about your background for those who may not recognize the name Hart Fisher.
As a horror creator it’s my job to hurt you. Not hold your hand, not give you a thrill, I’m here to hurt you and leave scars. That is what I do, it is why so much of my work has been banned or censored.
I first started publishing comics in 1991 under my publishing company, Boneyard Press. We published the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer, Kill Image (an indie publisher goes on a rampage, murdering Rob Liefeild, Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee), Rush Limbaugh Must Die, The Mighty Morphin Rump Rangers (grabbed in the Planet Comics bust), Dark Angel (Forget about Dexter, this is the first serial killer antihero), we did the Marvel Can Suck My Cock tshirts at the 1995 San Diego Comicon which caused them to add several new pages of legal language to their vendor contracts. We did the first intercompany horror crossover with the Dark Angel/Razor: The Final Nail. I was the first person to publish My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way’s work, in the short lived series On Raven’s Wings. I took him under my wing when he was 15 years old. I told Gary he was worth a sh*t when everyone at school was bringing him down, beating up on him.
As the managing editor of Glenn Danzig’s imprint, Verotik, I brought to the world “A Taste of Cherry” for Verotika #4 (CoAuthored with Christian Moore) which is banned in the state of Oklahoma to this day. I’ve done the talk show circuit as the bad guy rotting away the morals of today’s youth from the gutters of Jerry Springer to the pages of Time Magazine and the halls of Larry King Live. I’ve had my work destroyed by the 2nd largest distributor (in it’s day) in comics, against their stores wills. I’ve fought in the courts over horror related 1st Amendment issues, I’ve published work by Mike Dianna (America’s only cartoonist to go to jail for his art), I’ve stood up to protest marches, SWAT teams on my front porch, the works. In 1998 I was dead for a week when I faked my death for April Fools Day. Hero Illustrated tagged me as The Most Dangerous Man in Comics when they put me on their Top 100 Most Important People In The Comics Industry list. I’ve worked in the adult film industry as an editor, writer, box designer, director and have had multiple AVN Award nominations for projects I’ve worked on, including P*rn of the Dead and Club Satan (with Matt Zane). I’ve been a bouncer, martial arts instructor, McDonald’s burger flipper, lifeguard, mosquito spray truck driver, music video director, adult film director, it’s been an interesting life.
People tell me I should write a book. The closest I’ve come is Poems for the Dead and the work I’m doing at In Cold Blog where I’m writing about my first love’s murder during the filming of my first film, The Garbage Man, and the decade of murder trials that followed.
As the owner of Boneyard Press, infamous for such comics as the Jeffrey Dahmer and OJ Simpson series, what sh*t did you have to take off of the mainstream media?
Being branded a villain on nationwide tv is no joke. That’s the first thing they did, tar me as some kind of bad guy for making horror comics. Because of this packaging by the mass media I’ve had to put up with censorship, harassment in the workplace, death threats, I lost business, I had several stores refuse to carry ANY of my products because of all the negative press, people in town would cross the street to not be on the same side of the street as I was. My house was robbed because the local news broadcast that I was out of town, thanks guys, and then another news crew came over and found the place broken into, front door kicked in, my clothes strung out the front door. It was a rain of sh*t, utter sh*t.
The standard crap they lay down on you is that you’re supposed to be embarrassed of your work, or the genre of horror as a whole. According to mainstream media, if you’re writing horror stories, then there must be something wrong with you, you must be broken. This is just dead wrong. I was belittled at every turn by the folks in the media, even having one show host on The E Channel start laughing on the air because of the notion that I read. She thought it was funny that I knew how to read, with a stack of National Enquirers next to her, out of camera sight. Being pigeon holed is no fun.
The worst was having your interviews chopped up and blended to suit their needs. They would edit the answer to one question as the answer to a separate question. CNN was the worst about that little trick. The Murder by Numbers documentary was the worst of the bunch with switching answers in the editing room. They totally mislead the audience. I learned a great deal about modern media and how it’s all manipulated to suit the ends of the producers, it had no relationship with truth or honesty. I’ve never been able to watch the television or read a newspaper the same way since.
I went to your YouTube page and watched some of your interviews from the mid ninetys and remembered actually seeing those at the time. I remember thinking it was a bunch of bullsh*t how they were portraying you. Do you still stand by what you said to such jerkoffs as Jerry Springer and Sally Jesse Raphael?
Nothing has changed. These types of people, and the shows they host, are all deeply exploitive, they are eagerly causing pain in their tv studios to sell commercial air time. If it bleeds it leads. Nothing has changed, just how blatantly they manipulate the truth. You can’t believe what you see on tv. You can’t trust these talk show hosts, they don’t care about you, they don’t care about anyone at home, they only care about the storyline they’re selling, the pious center that makes them the most money. Make no mistake, it’s all about the money.
You have been one of the forerunners about Freedom of Speech and it has gotten you a lot of sh*t over the years. What do you have to say to those people who tried to silence you for so long now?
Did you get what you wanted? Are you happy? Are you proud of yourselves? Did you accomplish a damn thing? You did nothing but forge me into a sharper edge. All of the censorship backfired on you. The only thing that can silence me is a bullet… Found that out the hard way didn’t you.
All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to stand silent. I’ve never been much good at being silent. Folks that know me though, that have known me when I was a bouncer could tell you, it’s when I get quiet you have to watch out.
During your fight in the public eye, you had some very dark times hitting in your personal life as well. Roger Scheck is currently filming a documentary about your life and you are “breaking the silence” after all of these years. Why have you decided to bare your soul now, sotospeak?
A lot of time has passed and I find that I am in a different place in my life. I have different responsibilities with a sick wife. My father’s passing in 2004… that was a big one. What most people don’t know about me… There has been a great deal of violence in my personal life since I was a boy. That is why my work is so primal.
Murder, rape, incest, stranger danger, police brutality, muggings, beatings… When I came under fire in the comics world for the savage darkness in my work, I didn’t discuss my personal experiences with violence with them. I didn’t use them as an excuse for what I was doing. I create what I create because that is what comes out, it is what I know. The common argument at that time of the Dahmer comics was “He wouldn’t write those things if only he knew what it was like to lose a loved one” but the truth was that I wrote horror specifically because of my real life experiences and the loved ones I’d lost to violence. These people attacking me didn’t know dime one about my life, and I certainly wasn’t going to hand them any weapons to use against me. I wasn’t ready to have these things argued over and exploited by the media in it’s handling of my story. Watching what they did with Michelle’s murder was grueling enough. They didn’t need to know that the scar on my mouth is an electrical burn. They didn’t need to know about watching my father blown up in his wooden motor boat when I was a child, seeing him barely survive, his friend’s 3rd degree burns, the rush to the hospital. I keep my scars to myself, maybe it’s a stern Midwestern thing.
After my fathers death in 2004 I began to feel differently. I felt a sense of the clock ticking. I’d always planned on discussing these things at some point in my life, when he died, I felt like a big chunk of my story was lost. The public doesn’t know that I fought through ten years of murder trials to keep a murdering bastard behind bars… but my dad, he was the only one that was right there with me at each and every trial… we were both witnesses, we had to testify…
With my dad gone, I found a deep need to start talking about these things rising up in me. The wave that broke the damn struck in 2006 when had my entire life burned down around me, when we began our battle with my wife’s cervical cancer. Everything about my old life died that summer. During this time of deep distress I had my closest associates turn on us. I couldn’t believe what happened. My own blood and some of my dearest friends, they chopped us up and went for our bellies when we were down.
This experience changed me.
My wife’s cancer was very aggressive, I’m afraid of it coming back, and I’ve had long talks with her doctors on how to keep my wife cancer free. With this in my mind I’ve made drastic changes in my life. The way I eat, what I eat, how I pursue my business, what I watch on tv, how I handle my emotions, all of these things had to change to better able my wife’s recovery. It hasn’t been easy. The hardest fight has come from those within my inner circle that didn’t want me to change. There were those that liked me crazy and they did things to keep me unbalanced.
Those people had to go. My life is different now. I’m here to share the lessons of my past as I move onto a new life. I am here to take back my life from those who lied. I’m here to set the record straight.
What are some of the things that we will be seeing in this documentary?
You’re going to see a very dark man reveal an even darker life. I’m opening all of the doors. I’m laying myself bare. This means you’ll hear about the murder of my first love, Michelle, during the filming of The Garbage Man. You’ll hear about the private war I waged to keep her murderer behind bars in 3 different murder trials that spanned a decade. You’ll hear about how I got the scar on my mouth, how I nearly died from a staph infection for one of my grade school Christmas vacations. My mother’s interview, it’s riveting. She is a smart woman who’s finally given her say on all those black days, all of the ignorant attacks, the camera crew was stunned when they shot this. Roger Scheck was taken aback. I don’t think he knew what he was getting into when he first signed on for this.
I don’t want you to give too much away, but I do believe this will be an important film for people to watch. Too many times are people swept under the rugs of ‘Censorship’ and made to disappear, I’m glad you have the strength to rise above it. You have become one of my heros! haha
You’ve got a good point. How many people out there had ever even heard of Mike Dianna? How many folks out there in the horror world know about the Planet Comics bust and “A Taste of Cherry” being banned? How many people are aware of distributors who destroy books they don’t like? I had the cops come out to my home to talk to me, over a friggin’ comic book. The horror fans need to learn about the kind of back handed censorship that they didn’t know existed, the creators need to know what they might face. It’s pretty easy to blacklist someone with all of the computer technology out there. Ask yourself why there isn’t a Hart D. Fisher entry in Wikepedia. I know some folks who’ve tried to start one, can’t seem to get it up there for some strange reason…
You think you’re going to just write your little horror stories and no one is going to bother you? I’m here to tell you that just isn’t so. If you tap a vein, if you strike a nerve you better be ready for the backlash. Check my story, learn from it.
Be ready to fight.
You now have a website, AMERICANHORRORS.COM, where you profile Indie films across 18 countries. How did you come to the decision to begin this site?
American Horrors originally started as a distribution site created to service the Japanese market. My wife’s a horror fan from Japan, we figured she knew the market over there, we’d start selling horror movies to’em. Before we got too deep into it we signed a deal to create American Horrors the tv show for a new international broadcast company, Global Broadcasting & Syndication Inc. In fact, it was GBS executive Lisa Jones Johnson who suggested I be the on camera host. This deal put us into Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, The Alto Adige Province of Italy, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo, you know, the fun places to party. Distribution is provided through an exclusive agreement with Music Media Enterprises Europe Ltd.® headquartered in Europe. That’s a big deal. My own tv show to play with? With my history? I’m going to go wild, lemme tellya. Thinking about the magnitude of this deal, of my burgeoning brand, this got me to expand my vision for American Horrors, to see it as something more.
I wanted to change the way horror films are produced and distributed, I wanted to take over the genre like a wacked out cross of Lew Wasserman, Chuck Norris and Roger Corman. American Horror’s tagline isn’t “Come buy our sh*t.” Our tagline is Real World Horror Revolution. When I started Boneyard Press I planned on being the scariest motherf*cker who ever published comics. I attained that goal with ease in a stunningly short amount of time. Now I’ve set my sites of flipping the entrire horror genre on it’s ear, of finding the wave of horror filmmaking titans, building a horror filmmaking family and changing the way business is conducted.
One of those ways we’re doing it different is our Bloody Ticket Promotion. You find yourself a “Bloody Ticket” in any American Horrors DVD release (The Garbage Man, Nobody Loves Alice Directors Cut) and you can win tickets to Nuclear Blast’s The Summer Slaughter Tour (with Necrophagist, Suffocation, Ensiferum (second half), Darkest Hour, Winds Of Plague, Dying Fetus, Born Of Osiris, Origin, Beneath The Massacre (first half), After The Burial, Decrepit Birth (first half), Blackguard (second half), and Behemoth (select dates), or maybe tickets to this falls The Darkest Tour headlined by Obituary (with Goatwhore, Berzerker, Krisiun and Warbringer), or maybe something even more wicked. We’re not just another dump and run horror distribution house. You won’t find any sh*tty giant snake movies in my catalogue. When you buy an American Horrors DVD expect cool rare sh*t. We’ve made a deal with several metal labels to allow us to put rare horror themed music videos on our releases. We’re working to start cross promoting through trailers with other indie horror distributors. We’ll be promoting through metal labels and through bands. Glenn Danzig has allowed us to broadcast some of his rare videos on the show.
American Horrors is poised to be a production entity and a distribution entity. Right now we’re in production of our first season of the tv show for the European market. We’ve got half the season in the can and we’re in the process of syndicating the show in other markets. I’ve set up our US feature film distribution wing in a partnership with Todd Taylor’s IndiePictures. Todd’s a visionary distributor who’s creator friendly and brings a great deal of marketing experience to the table. He’s hooked us up with Jay Douglas, one of the visionary men that started Anchor Bay and Blue Underground. Jay and his team understand horror. These guys are super excited with our new DVD line that we’ve launched with my first film, The Garbage Man, followed by the Directors Cut of Nobody Loves Alice. I’ve been working personally with Roger Scheck on the directors cut. I’m super psyched to be releasing The Garbage Man through the American Horrors label. We’ve made deals with The Summer Slaughter Tour and this fall’s The Darkest Tour headlined by Obituary. This is a huge audience to tap for horror, and audience I love. Though out my career, it’s been the metal nations that have supported me the most. To be able to unite them with the horror audience under the American Horrors flag, it’s a dream come true. I live my work. I love what I do.
I’m looking to bring real innovation into my favorite genre, taking it back from the suits, taking my fight to the streets. I’m a man who’s been there, done that, and I back up my word with blood. No one can deny what I’ve done for the 1st Amendment and the horror genre in comics. Corporate horror has been sucking for years now. It’s time for the indies to rise up, take things to the bloody edge. That’s what I have planned for American Horrors.
What is the site all about?
What else is going on with you at this point?
I just finished up some editing projects for Glenn Danzig. I cut his “Man or Monster” video for Doyle’s new band, Gorgeous Frankenstein, and a documentary for the band. I gotta admit, it’s been great working with Glenn again. I also cut a horror short he directed, She Only Likes Men, from the Verotika series.
Currently I’m buried with producing and hosting American Horrors. Getting our DVD line off the ground here in the states, putting together our Bloody Ticket Promotion, getting ready for the next Obituary video project, there’s a Mantic Ritual music video early in July I’m directing, editing a video for my filmmaking partner, Craven Moorehead (special guest director System of a Down’s Shavo for the super slo mo master), for his band The Shift, putting together our international cuts, taking care of my wife, it’s a fulltime schedule. We’ve got guys putting together a major revamp of the site, I’m putting our international street teams together, getting The Garbage Man mastered for it’s DVD release June 30th, cutting trailers and promo’s for the show… Jesus, what aren’t I doing?
Most recently I’ve been tapped for a horror metal project that mixes music videos with a narrative storyline, kind of like Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The band is called Death Dealer and the music is totally brutal death metal. We’ve got the Hall Clan on the gore effects, my film crew headed by Head of Photography Craven Moorehead, ace lighting master Alan Eigen and a fistful of cool horror cameos. Courtney Gaines does a great bit of hack’n’slash. I get killed real good, stabbed in the neck. Penthouse Pet of the month, Jessica Jaymes and MTV’s I’m Addicted to P*rn, Jayden Jaymes, both molested me before I get killed by Death Dealer lead singer, Joe Hollow. I’ve got to say, not a bad way to while away the hours before your demise. We’re talking to Tom Towles, R.A. Mihaillff, and more for extra flavor! Joe’s got a big vision, I’m glad he’s tapped me to fulfill it.
You should also keep your eyes peeled for the return of several Boneyard Press characters. I’m talking to some publishers about doing some tradepaperbacks of Bill the Bull, the Dahmer comics, Dark Angel, and maybe some new stuff by Ju Gomez, his new book Son of 6 is crazy bloody. Poems for the Dead is cruising for a new edition, we’re toying with a hardcover and new illustrations.
Think I’ve got enough on my plate?
Working with these film makers, who are some we should keep an eye out for? Besides Roger, we already know he is brilliant. haha
Well I think the filmmaking team of Eric Shapiro and Rhoda Jordan is one to watch. They’re film, Rule of 3, really stood out at the 2008 Shriekfest. The Speed brothers have done some cool shorts. I didn’t get to see it, but we heard enormous buzz about The Open Door also at the fest. I’ve been a big fan of Rob Zombie’s directing, maybe not his writing as much, but lovin’ his directing. I’m not so sure about this Michael Bay remake fest that’s been going on, but at least it’s got people talking about horror, messing with horror. I just wish there more original fare like Splinter getting wide spread attention. I’m very happy to see Derek Mears up there as Jason. I know him from Gokor and Gene LeBell’s Hayastan Dojo in North Hollywood. You couldn’t meet a nicer guy. Very talented in the dojo also. I’m glad to see Frank Henenlotter back at making films. I want to see Eli Roth break free from his formula, he’s a sharp one, we’ll see if he goes the distance. I want to see more from Adam Gierasch, his writing is sharp. I’d love to see John Skipp get his way and step behind the camera for Jake’s Wake. After Planet Terror I’d love to see more horror from Robert Rodriguez.
I love what Michael Hein and his Moo Dude Crew is doing with the New York City Horror Filmfestival. I think Mike runs a tremendous show. I love seeing the insane resurgence of grindhouse screenings around the country, the horror film festivals springing up everywhere, the guys down in the Texas Grindcore scene, all the indie horror radio shows, I mean, it’s a goddamned free fer all and I love it!
I’m eager for the remakes to stop though, I want to see new legends made, new monsters staking the cinema. I’m bored with studio generated soap opera pap like True Blood… let’s see something that lines up audiences around the block and shakes them to their core the way The Exorcist did in it’s day. I want to see something that breaks the rules and takes peoples breath away.
Yeah, funny you should mention that… I’ve spent way too much time in post production aiding other directors in achieving their visions. I’m itching to get back to my scars.
I’ve had several projects in the works that have run into snags here and there. I’ve had a slasher film in place, I was up for a 1.5 million dollar indie by the same producers of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie remake. Right now I’ve got my hands full directing American Horrors and my music video slate, but I really want to take on 13 Bloody Kisses. It’s my homage to teen camp slasher films, only with my twist.
For awhile I was working on serial killer film called The Chicago Rippers, based on a real group of serial killers from the early 80’s, that I was going to get in front of the camera on also. I was going to play the head serial killer. All of my time in front of the camera as the host of American Horrors is just practice for some fun in front of the camera. Folks can tune into The Discovery Channel for the 2nd season of The Verminators for a little taste. They ran me down doing “reenactments” for the show. It’s all about the horror director who hates rats & black widows. I should’ve had stunt pay. I let them dangle a fat black widow over my big toe while I was lounging in some bubble bath. Crazy. That’ll be on this summer, in July or August.
As for directing, we’ll see what sticks to the walls. American Horrors is my main thing now.
Thank you so much for opening up to us today! I am very excited to see the finished documentary! Um, I do get one of the first copies right?! haha
I’m all about the swag train. I’ll drop copies of The Garbage Man on you and some rare surprises you’re not expecting. You’re mail box is going to feel guilty and ashamed after it gets my package, no AC/DC pun intended…
For more info on Hart D. Fisher, visit:
Any last words for us today?
Free Speech is something you never stop protecting or fighting over. Some one somewhere will always be bothered by what you’ve said. Someone else always has a better idea of what’s okay for you to watch. Sometimes they’ll do it in the name of the children, others will do it in the name of their god, all will try to tell you what to think, what to watch, what to read, what you can sing about, these things don’t change.
You have to take it to them. You have to say no. You have to stand your ground in the face of everything. Don’t ever give up that fight. You give an inch, they’ll bury you a mile.
No go out there and turn The Garbage Man into a cult DVD hit!
Hart D. Fisher (Garbage Man, Boneyard Press)