While running a second hand bookstore for a friend in 1993, and editing and publishing two horror fiction zines (EOD
), Chris Masters conceived the idea of publishing a professional horror magazine. Initially to be called Severed Head
, Masters shut down production of the zines and convinced another friend, Steve Proposch, to take on the role of co-editor. In his account of the history of Bloodsongs
, Masters recalls that at the time horror publishing in Australia, 'apart from a couple small press publications, was non-existent. Major publishers were just not interested in publishing local horror writers; this, despite the fact, that overseas names like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker consistently made the top of the best-seller list' ('Bloodsongs
Unable to find support from the Federal Government or from banks the magazine, renamed Bloodsongs
, eventually went ahead through a small loan from Proposch's father. Operating out of an office in Commerce House, located in Melbourne's CBD, Masters and Proposch put the first issue out in January 1994 through Bambada Press. They were joined six months later by Bryce Stevens who was engaged as assistant editor. Kyla Ward
acted as NSW agent and advertising manager for the magazine. The content comprised a mix of articles and stories, including fiction, poetry,
non-fiction, artwork and interviews.
In their William Atheling Jr
award-winning essay, 'A History of Australian Horror,' Bill Congreve, Sean McMullen and Steve Paulsen note that vthe first issue 'received some criticism for tending towards the splatter end of the
genre... A Category One Restricted rating [from] the Attorney General's
department saw it restricted to readers 18 years and older, and banned
altogether in the state of Queensland" (ctd. Bonescribes: Year's Best
1995, p. 135)
Masters admits that by the time the third issue had been published they were aware the magazine was costing them far more to produce than it was making and had already putt us both several thousand dollars in debt. After some discussion Proposch opted to continue Bloodsongs
on his own for a couple more issues in the hope that the situation might improve.
After the release of issue No 6 Proposch started negotiations with
American publishers Dave Bauer and Cynthia Conlin (Implosion Publishing)
to buy the magazine. Conlin took over as Editor-in-Chief from Bloodsongs
8 with Steve Proposch remaining on board as fiction editor. Implosion
went on to publish three more issues in the USA before folding the
magazine down in 1998 after issue No 11. Bloodsongs
a unique place in the history of Australian horror publishing as it was
the first real professional horror magazine in Australia.
The Melbourne University Press's Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy
(1998) considers Bloodsongs
to be 'Australia's first professional horror and dark fantasy magazine'
(p. 143). The entry also proposes that issues 4 to 7 reflect an
insightful move away from 'graphic horror to a more balanced approach'
Australian writers whose work was published in the magazine included Robert Hood
, Sean Williams
, Richard Harland
, Kyla Ward, Steve Paulsen
, Kaaron Warren
, Kirstyn McDermott
, Bill Congreve
, and Sean McMullen
. Issue No 1 also contained an interview with Leigh Blackmore