Remember Jamie Kennedy’s character in Scream? The one that knew all of the secrets to surviving horror movies because he’d watched them all a few too many times?
Yeah. I was that spooky little kid.
Whether it was when I checked out IT from the library in third grade or snuck into the theater to watch Nightmare on Elm Street 3 with my little brother, you could say that scary stuff ran in my blood from a very young age.
But wait, you say – that’s not urban fantasy, that’s horror
I agree! It’s an interesting line to draw, and it’s a discussion I look forward to having with the rest of our contributors, and you, the fans. The main difference between the two, to my mind, is the ability of the protagonists to handle their experiences.
This can be either active resistance or simply staying sane. True horror generally leans toward the latter. The protagonist is shattered by the experience. Evil wins. And frankly, even as a kid that kind of writing pissed me off. Young Goodman Brown, the poor stupid teens on Elm Street, anyone dumb enough to read from Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. Toast.
Best-case scenario, you’re in a rubber room drawing crosses on the walls. (Yeah, I saw that as a kid, too. I’ll take ‘lack of adult supervision for 1,000, Alex.)
Turning the corner
The earliest example of urban fantasy was probably Solomon Kane. Traveling pilgrim, fighting evil? He’s basically Sam and Dean Winchester in a goofy hat. For the most part, while there were dribs and drabs of urban fantasy here and there, I think you have to give the lion’s share of credit for the explosion of the genre to authors Laurell K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher.
As best I’ve noticed and can tell the majority of the expansion of the market occurred after they debuted. Which, in the end, is great for us. Urban fantasy is a growing genre, with so many variations that the ‘urban’ appellation really doesn’t work anymore. Most of Russell Newquist’s War Demons takes place in suburban or rural Georgia. My own Fade meanders around the Midwest and ends up on the mean streets of . . . Wisconsin?
But let’s be honest. ‘Suburban’ or ‘rural fantasy’ just doesn’t sound as boss. And no matter the setting, urban fantasy above all else, means one thing to me.
Evil rises? Cowboy up.