Cybernocks 2: Bad Billy by Jimmy Pudge
Reviewed By Anthony Servante
Jimmy James "M.F." Pudge was born into this world on 6-9-1979 in a truck stop toilet at a TA Travel Center in the backwoods of South Georgia. An honest and conscientious man, Jimmy served several prison sentences because he refused to give in to the federal laws that impose independent spirits' rights to be entrepreneurs. An expert in the art of pruno, shank construction, and paper dart blow guns, Jimmy briefly served as a leader in his dorm room before being released early for good behavior.
I’ve always measured the quality of horror not by the amount of gore incorporated into the story, but by the placement and context of the gruesomeness, not unlike a drive-in horror show: half the fun is watching a movie out in the open (save for being inside your vehicle) rather than the safety of the darkness of a cinema theater. Bad Billy returns us to the frights we used to have at the outdoor movie venue, where we remember seeing films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Gruesome Twosome, and other B classics.
In Billy we have the story of a young boy who reminded me of a junior Juggernaut (from the X-Men), who after years of being chained in the basement, escapes into the world to learn of the ways of man and monster (the titles of the last two chapters, in fact). The story contains real suspense, better than most the horror flicks I’ve seen recently, and an assortment of supporting characters right out of a drive-in flick: a drunk detective, a backwoods sheriff, a hokey deputy, an incestuous brother and sister, and more than enough to fill two dime novels. Framed in a William (Billy?) Blake format (innocence to experience), the story takes the reader on Billy’s grotesque “growth” from child-like creature to a creature that becomes self-aware of being more than an animal, of being a human, though leaving a path of victims like a fat man in a smorgasbord as he learns the difference.
His first lesson occurs when he sees himself in the mirror and realizes he terrifies even himself. And seeing him grow is half the fun. He undergoes many changes, which I cannot post here without spoiling the other half of the fun that comes from Billy's maturation. The supporting cast is believable and in the brief time we get to know them, we feel their loss. Then they get offed. This device is reminiscent of early James Herbert who in his book The Rats introduced us to his victims in great detail before having the rats devour them. The descriptions of the victims in Bad Billy actually outnumber the gory scenes, so we spend more time getting to know the characters before seeing them off, so to speak. Billy’s journey ends poignantly, but that is life after all, from William Blake’s teachings, anyway. And it turns out that Billy isn’t the only monster amongst men. But his final act is that of a man with a voice all his own.
I've always liked Jimmy Pudge. You get layers when most authors give you one dimensional stories. Let’s see, you get a “horror” savvy fan who takes on the persona of a gangsta taking on the persona of a horror writer. Even the titles of his books (Yo A$$ is Grass and The Dick, e.g.) add a new layer of ironic distance by bringing his readers in on the joke. But it’s a running joke, and Jimmy is a natural when it comes to running with this premise. With Bad Billy, Pudge himself has grown as an author. Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Hannibal Lecter would be proud.
For more on Jimmy Pudge, check out his Amazon page here: http://www.amazon.com/Jimmy-Pudge/e/B008AEZW10/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Next up on the Cybernocks reviews is Kealan Patrick Burke’s KIN. Coming soon.