J.A. Hernandez enjoys horror, playing with cats, and hiding indoors away from the sun. Also, books. So many books—you wouldn't believe.
He runs a weekly newsletter called Into Horror History and writes fiction.
Milicent Patrick & Her Enduring Design of the Creature from the Black Lagoon
Her name and credit for her work were actively buried for decades, stolen by Milicent's boss Bud Westmore. The Creature himself still can't believe what Milicent went through to get him on film.
Keillers Park Murder
There are a lot of criminal cases from around the world that barely (or never) make English-language news. I'm about to walk you through one of those that was pretty famous in Sweden, but you're unlikely to have heard of it unless you follow Swedish crime, black metal (particularly second wave), or Satanic news.
Tracking Tahoe Tessie Down
Of course, you can't see the monstrous snake creature in the photo because then we wouldn't have a mystery on our hands. Research into the unknown—especially cryptids—is fraught with booby traps, half-truths, pitfalls, lack of physical, photographic, or video evidence, and dead ends. It's dangerous out there, but I'm happy to be your guide as I hack and slash my way through the information danger jungle called the Internet.
Tamám Shud Case
1 December 1948 Somerton Park, Australia 7:00 AM A man's body was found on the beach. Police are called. Arriving on the scene, the police find the man resting upright against a sea wall, with a partially-smoked, unlit cigarette lying on his shoulder. The mystery man appeared to be of British descent, was well-dressed, wore dry clothes, and showed no signs of injury or assault. In his pockets: an unused second-class rail ticket, a bus ticket, two hair combs, a half-eaten pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum, a pack of cigarettes, a box of matches. The lining of one of his trouser's pockets has been repaired with an unusual, orange waxed thread.
The Oklahoma Octopus
Naturally, 'octopus' is always the first thing everyone thinks of when the state of Oklahoma comes up. The two are inseparable, like a sucker on a fish tank. But, of all the octopuses* in Oklahoma that we could focus on, which one should we pick?
In 1896, local miners discovered gold in the Klondike region of Yukon in northwest Canada. The news hit Seattle and San Francisco, and then a stampede of prospects descended on the area looking for wealth. Over 100,000 people with gold fever rushed into Klondike in only three short years. Most of them got a whole bunch of nothing for their trouble.
Gilles de Rais
Let’s talk about, arguably, one of the evilest people from history. Some historians call him “The Evilest Man in the World.” We can go ahead and call him that — just don’t tell my high school English teacher because she’d smack your hand with a ruler and insist “evilest” isn’t a word and that it’s actually “The Most Evil Man in the World.”
The Jiajing Emperor
Did you know that there are at least 21 ways to tie shoelaces? For neckties, there are anywhere between 85 and 177,147 methods. The oldest knot on record dates to about 13,000 BC. Of all the knots you’ve ever tied in your life — have you ever tied one that won’t tighten? I have. It’s kind of a pain, too, when it happens. You think you’ve got it right, go to draw it tight, and are met with a mess that takes a while to untangle so you can try again.
Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
You know, the problem with having niche interests is that most people excuse themselves out of a conversation with me as soon I start rambling about things like prototypical lesbian¹ vampires as literary devices in Victorian-era fiction. It’s not that uncommon of a conversation topic, right? I suppose you just have to be around the right people, though. Good thing I’ve got you.
Tomoka's Carnivorous Pink Cloud
The 1950s sure did see all kinds of craziness. The Cold War raged, fear of nuclear weapons invaded every home and school, constant UFO sightings put people on edge, and World War II still weighed heavily on humanity. The '50s brought fresh ideas into comics, movies, and magazines—mostly touching on the cultural fears without calling them out directly. Elvis packed venues, Hitchcock films hit theaters at least once a year, and what would later become classic literature flew off the shelves—an exciting time for everyone.