The Morbid Curiosity zine

July is International Zine Month, which I think is cool. Back before the internet was much of a thing, in the days before Google…jeez, before LiveJournal and Myspace, I made a zine called Morbid Curiosity. I published the first issue in 1997. I can’t believe it’s been 26 years.

Morbid Curiosity collected true confessional stories from authors around the world. Some of them were professionals. Others I published for the first time. Topics ranged from bad medical experiences to brushes with serial killers, from what we’d call Dark Tourism to, let’s say, experiments in altering one’s own chemistry.

I loved putting the zine together each year. It introduced me to people I still consider friends, all these years later. Through it, I met artists like Chris Bale, M. Parfitt, Erik Quarry, Kimberlee Traub, and Mike Hunter, who made amazing illustrations for each issue. I was the first reader for adventures that I was thrilled people would admit to in public. I could not have been prouder of what we achieved.

Morbid Curiosity #9 was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction. By then, I’d already decided to close things down. Blogging had taken off and it was harder to find unpublished stories when anyone could tell their story on LiveJournal. Distribution had always been a pyramid scheme, but once Tower Records and Borders went out of business, I lost my biggest venues for reaching new readers. (Facebook didn’t start to explode until 2008.)

Still, I was really proud of Morbid Curiosity #10, the final issue, which came out in 2006. It contained confessional nonfiction by horror authors Alan M. Clark, John Everson, Seth Lindberg, and Simon Wood. That issue’s topics included drinking human blood, serving as a public defender for a hammer murderer, surviving temporal lobe seizures, planning a home funeral, watching UFOs, living through complications in childbirth, and much more.

Every year when a new issue of the zine came out, I hosted a huge reading for local contributors and anyone else who could make it to San Francisco. In 2006, I called the event a wake. It was held in what would become Borderlands Cafe on Valencia Street, although at that time the space was huge and barely lit, the walls torn open to the studs.

Me, giving the eulogy for Morbid Curiosity.

The Washington Post published a great piece about the magazine called “The Morbid the Merrier? Alas, No More” that was picked up by newspapers across the country. I took the Morbid Curiosity show on the road, to Alameda and Sacramento. We raised money for breast cancer research. I hosted the last Morbid Curiosity Open Mic at the World Horror Convention that year.

Morbid Curiosity #10 is the only issue of the zine still in print. Get a copy for $10 postpaid in the US and satisfy your curiosity. Order it direct from me here.

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at, I blog about my morbid life at
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