“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”
-Ray Bradbury, THE OCTOBER COUNTRY
For so many of us, October is the greatest time of the year. As Bradbury points out, it is a magical time, a time filled with childhood wonder and a sense of mystery. It is a time for the Autumn People.
Who are the Autumn People? As Bradbury again says:
“For these beings, fall is ever the normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth….Such are the autumn people.”
This is frightening imagery…
But for some of us, there’s an allure there, a seduction, a gentle hand that takes our own and guides us into the shadows, into the grey places where the light is often afraid to venture. For, you see, we ARE the Autumn People.
And we’re all around you.
Some are obvious. Some dress in black and fill their faces with piercings. Some listen to Bahaus or Cannibal Corpse. But they’re only a small part of who we are.
The Autumn People are everywhere.
We’re in offices. We’re on the subway. We’re serving potato salad at church picnics. We’re your brothers and fathers and daughters and aunts. We may wear suits and ties. We may listen to classic rock. We may drive a Prius and spend a good chunk of time at the gym. You’d never know us by looking at us.
And that is part of the magic.
For us, there is no time greater than those short days and ever-lengthening nights leading up to Halloween. There is a comfort and a solace in those aforementioned grey places and, when the eyes of the world are not on us, we slip away to our native home, to our October Country, and revel in the wonders hidden inside the shadows.
Chances are that, if you’re reading this, you may be an Autumn Person too.
Shhhh, it’s okay. It doesn’t make you lesser, though it does mark you as different. But don’t shy away from it. Don’t apologize and pretend that it’s a guilty pleasure. Revel in it. Wear it as a second skin. Howl it to the black sky at night and bask in the glow of the moonlight. This is your month. It’s OUR month.
We are the Autumn People. And, every October, we march.
There are amazing and wondrous books and movies that we seek out every Halloween season, we Autumn People, to help us find the pinpricks in the sunlit world that let us slip back into our own. There are the obvious ones, the big names, the folk that benefit from marketing and PR machines.
But I would like to take a moment to introduce you to some of the hidden, the Autumn People that brush by you at the book store and stand in line behind you at the coffee shop. Their work is just as wondrous (and often more so) than the names you know. Every one of the works listed below is breath taking and will fill your home with shadows and Jack’O'Lanterns and dark whispers.
You can hear them now. In the distance, a rumbling. Thousands of boots on the ground. The wind carries leaves across dying fields. Cold rain begins to fall. And they thunder.
Come, now, and join the March of the Autumn People.
BENJAMIN KANE ETHRIDGE
Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (co-written with Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman)
MERCEDES M. YARDLEY
MICHAEL LOUIS CALVILLO
And, if you’d like to check out my work that was written deep inside of the October Country, you can visit the page on this site for my novel DARLING or my Bibliography page for some of my short fiction.
Are you an Autumn Person? What are your favorite books, movies, video games, music, or graphic novels that help you get in the mood for Halloween? Please post them in the comments section.