Young Blood - Guts x Bram Stoker Festival

Roisin Agnew | Editor's Foreword

When they discovered specific details of blood coagulation by studying haemophiliacs who bled out uncontrollably, scientists termed the process of coagulation a “cascade” that sealed an opening in the body, protecting it from the outside world. How well blood came together was a matter of life or death. A heart attack, a hemorrhage, a blood clot, a stroke - they all depended on your blood’s coagulatory abilities, its capacity for stickiness.

In Dracula, Bram Stoker has a character quote scripture, saying, “For the blood is the life.” To ingest blood is to assimilate the other person, to break that seal that the body has worked so hard to build. The sexual symbolism is so obvious, down to its very stickiness. Blood sits in the intersection of death and sex, a thanatological cock tease and  taboo that shows up in the viral photographs of a teenager’s period-stained sheets or in the social critique of an indie vampire flick. For something as intrinsic to life, blood itself doesn’t get much air time. But to breach that protective layer and get to the warm flowing red stuff to tell stories about our shared experiences of blood, seemed quite fun.

And we had to take advantage of our name for this year’s Bram Stoker Festival. So, as an homage to Dracula’s creator we bring you oozing scabs, supernatural menstruations, bloodless cadavers, and vampiric politicians in this special festival edition all on the theme of the blood. Happy Halloween. R

Sonny Ross | Issue Illustrator

From the time he was born Sonny had enormous sideburns, which apparently is not uncommon in Manchester. His parents were keen ornithologists and soon little Sonny developed a love of birds, particularly ducks. But sadly, as so often happens, the arrival of puberty dispelled all that was pure and bird-like in Sonny’s heart, substituting it with an obsession with drawing and sunny afternoons filled with drawn curtains and horror movies. His skills as an illustrator sharpened, his love of horror remained.

I still haven’t met Sonny at time of writing. I was trawling through our submissions one night, knowing that we didn’t have anything we could use anyone for, when I stumbled upon a strange name. Further investigation showed that the name belonged to an artist with a particular brand of cheekiness made up of vibrant colours and funny characters with a retro feel. If I were a child I’d probably adore Sonny, and as an adult I definitely do.

His love of Bram Stoker and horror made him a perfect candidate for the issue, and the first non-Dublin illustrator we’ve ever used. And he’s rediscovered his love of ducks recently. His book, Duck Gets A Job, came out in October and is available in a bookshop near you.