Born in the 1970s, Christian D. Read is an Australian writer who has worked in the comic book, video game, rpg and publishing industries for many years. With his creations finding fans all over the globe.
He is interested in history, the occult and everything weird. Topics that influence and find their way into all of his endeavours – Such as his recently launched RPG company, CrowLand Publishing, which he runs with Scott Fraser.

The cover to Wickerpunk – a DnD supplement from Christian and CrowLand Publishing.

Wanting to get to know him better we sent Christian some questions to answer over email.
Take a dive into his world below…

Getting Acquainted

Name + D.O.B?

My name is Christian D. Read, I’m 46.

City, State and Country you currently call home?

I’m currently in Ballarat, Victoria.

City, State and Country you’re from?

I move around a lot, I don’t really consider myself as having a home state or city.
I’m just Australian.

The cover to The Eldritch Kid: Bone War comic – Written by Christian, Published by Gestalt Comics.
Cover and colours by Justin Randall; illustrations by Paul Mason and Letters by Wolfgang Bylsma.

Please describe some memories – such as art, writing, music, friendships, adventures, study, romance, politics, work, crime, religion… anything really – from the stages of your life noted below:

* Your childhood:

I was born with 8 fingers, two fused together.
When I had them operated on, 11 or 12 I stayed in the burns ward for a week. I remember the children and their scars and the smell of it.

* Your teenage years:

Kissing a woman for the first time.

* Your 20s:

2000, on the roof of a block of flats, ripped to the tits on New Years Eve, hoping to see the city go black and the planes and satellites fall from the sky.
But I’m rarely so lucky.

A million pub gigs.

Drinking with S. until dawn, when Sydney had 24 hour pubs, endless game of pool and cigarettes.
Some of my finest memories, then.

* Your 30s:

The entire left side of my body suddenly going numb.
Utterly numb.
A week later, I’d be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Publishing regularly.
Work, work, work.

* Your 40s so far:

Getting a dog.
Losing a dog.

Hospitals, encroaching madness.

Personal motto(s)?

Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell.
He has borrowed his authority from death.

Walter Benjamin.

Writing + Creativity Questions

When and why did you first become interested in writing and everything creative?
… and any pivotal creative moments / influences?

I was, like many in the profession, an avid reader as a child.
Art was always very important to me, even in a teenage scumbag whirl of fantasy and horror novels, rpgs, metal, hip hop and comics – A fine start.
Then as I grew older, I craved the harder stuff, like weed leads to heroin.

I still love the trash, but it’s rewarding to get into difficult books and challenging art and complex music. Without big, weird books to guide, the world is a wilderness of fear.

I wanted to be an archaeologist for a long, long time. Then I was in year 11 or 12 and reading a terrible, terrible novel I thought ‘I could do better than that!’
And then a minute later, my head lit up – ‘I could, actually, do better than that.’
Ten years of terrible nonsense followed. 

Particularly strong artistic memories are: Seeing a Goya exhibition that frightened me deeply. Durer and Bacon, too.
Watching a film called ‘The Reflecting Skin’ for the first time.
Pawing endlessly through the 90s counterculture bookshops and record stores of Sydney and Melbourne.
Eat Carpet’ on SBS, a late-night block of weird short films and animations played late at night.

The cover to the Karnak: Book One comic – Written by Christian, Published by Gestalt Comics and featuring art by Michael Maier.

We know you are interested in the occult, religion and spirituality…
So, how did your interest in everything esoteric start?

I honestly can’t remember a time I wasn’t interested in ‘the occult’. A kindergartener haunting the library for ‘Man, Myth and Magic’, a brilliant encyclopaedia of the weird stuff.
Then, the usual mob. Donald Tyson, Peter Caroll, Phil Hine, dear old Uncle Al, the perv. Kenneth Grant. All mixed up with an interest in history, art, politics.
It’s all one thing.

… and what influence has the occult had on your artistic and personal life?

My novels, the ‘Lark Case Files’, which just went out of print, are an attempt to write a rigorously researched ‘occult P.I.’
No laser beams or anything, just legitimate magic practices.

Two of my comic series are based around folklore, myth, and fables of history: ‘The Eldritch Kid’, a horror cowboy set in a blasted, hideous old West.
‘Karnak’, a modern riff on the set up from Carnacki.
I saw that BBC Sherlock show and thought it was so wretched and that I could do better.
Spite is a strong motivator.

The philosophy and thinking that the occult requires, knowing when to be skeptic and when to will yourself into a kind of controlled schizophrenia, is very useful as an artistic mindset and gave me a way to think of my own spirituality (ugh) without having to define that by religion or New Age nonsense. 

If you had to explain your creative endeavours to some recently crash-landed aliens…
What would you tell them?

I’d probably just kill and eat them.
The thought of life beyond earth is the most depressing thing I could ever imagine.
Unless they had a freelance budget, then I’d convince them I was an artistic genius.
Then kill and eat them after they paid me with their sticky alien coins.

Who are some of your favourite artists, writers and musicians?
…and what is it about their works that so inspire and move you?

I have so many, so very many.

Musicians I’m currently listening to Swans, still.
J.B Nelson, a bitter Scottish weirdo in a room singing songs about murder, cruelty and love.
Agalloch. Betty Davis, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush.
Vera Sola has real potential.
Lingua Ignota. The Delta Bombers, Crazy Cavan, Clutch, Wolvennest, King Dude. Mick Farren, Martin Carthy, the Dagons. Deadbolt.

Novels – Robertson Davies is great.
K.J Bishop might be the best fantastic writer alive.
Dan Abnett for some space guns fun.
Guy Gavriel Kay, Tanith Lee. Elizabeth Hand. Christa Faust. Joris-Karl Huysmans.
Got to have some weird for me to truly love it.
William Burroughs, Kelly Link. Mid period Salman Rushdie.
I also have a distressing weakness for trashy show business autobiographies.

Artists, I’m behind the times and my tastes are old fashioned.
I like all the Symbolists. Moreau and Redon come to mind. Leonor Fini. Felicien Rops, all those cats.
Peter Booth.
So uncool.

Different artists speak to different things.
I like Rops for his playful sexiness and Redon for his complex emotional landscapes.
Kate Bush remains a strange cultural figure, combining disciplines and a personal vision.
Jim Thompson for his fascination with evil and calm, controlled prose.
What I really prize is a person explaining their world to me through metaphor, imagery, and symbols. Don’t just tell me who you are, let me feel you – Like a pervert in a movie theatre.

If people wanted to read your works, work with you or buy some of your wares – Where should they visit and how should they get in touch?

Comixology for the comics, or Amazon.
Drivethru RPG for the tabletop roleplaying game stuff I’ve been doing the last year with my creative partner Scott Fraser under the name Crowland Publishing.

Dealing with an absolutely ruinously corrupt small publisher has left my novels out of print and at the risk of sounding dramatic or exaggerating, that whole experience destroyed my spirit and sent me insane.
I should try to find another publisher but honestly, after my last experience…

The videogames are gone, writ like water.
I scripted about a dozen. Fun gigs, but just gigs.

Odds and Ends

If you could live in any place, during any historical era – Where and when would that be?
…and why would you choose that time and place?

The actual answer is, anywhere with dentistry and indoor plumbing.
But hanging out with the Levellers in the 17th century would be fun.
Seeing Damascus at it’s height of the Classical Era.
Weimar Republic might be pretty saucy.
14th century Venice.

Anywhere I could have a cloak, rapier and tricorn. The other answers are just to make me sound smarter.
Take me to a world of knee high boots and waistcoats.

What role did toys play in your childhood?

I suppose I liked the toys with complex backstories and personalities.
I don’t think of them often.

You and I have better things to talk about than Strawberry Shortcake.

Does sex change everything?

Only when it’s funny.

What are the top 3 items you own?

A cross my father gave me long, long ago I’ve worn for 30 years.

A stunning book of full colour reproduction of William Blake’s ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.’

A glass Nazar, the ‘evil eye’ of Arabian mythology.

Yes, I am great at parties…

In a fight between the following 2 Australian icons: Ned Kelly (Bushranger) Vs. Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read (Criminal, Writer, Artist + Musician) – Who would win?
…and why would they be victorious?

Chopper Read, a violent torturer and snitch, was once marked for death by the valiant Painters and Dockers Union.
He attacked the elderly and worked with police.

Ned Kelly suffered violent racism from English colonisers of Australia, survived brutal repression from the vicious Victorian Police. His crimes were motivated by a bone-deep hatred of authority and material desperation.

The little writing of his that survives suggests a man of intelligence and power.
I do not wish to give the order full force without giving timely warning but I am a Widow’s Son, outlawed and my orders must be obeyed.

Chopper Read’s books are clearly self-serving exaggerations for a very normie audience who’ll never take a punch.

Ned Kelly would murder Chopper Read, gunning him down with his rifle, ‘Betty,’ or his lovely Colt Navy pistols and fell the charmless boor with a series of gunshots to the face and feet and hair.
Without scratching his armour.
And all for no money at all!

Please describe your last dream in detail…

I dream I’m falling, most nights.
I’m terrified of heights.

Of everything you have done, what would you most like to be remembered for?

Artistically, my novel ‘Nil-Pray’ might be my most accomplished work.

On a personal level, well, not too many people will visit my lonesome grave, but no one, I hope, will spit on it.
About as good as you can hope for, that.

The cover to Nil-Pray by Christian.