Studies After The Human Figure

A zombie meditation on a quote from Joel-Peter Witkin: “The mark is the primal gesture,” my story Studies After The Human Figure appears this month in the anthology “Ceci n’est pas une histoire d’horreur” (“This is Not a Horror Story”).

“Studies After The Human Figure” looks at a relationship between an artist and model. I’m fascinated by the topic, and it’s one reason I’m co-editing an anthology about artists and models entitled “Stories of the Eye.” We just opened for submissions today. You can learn more about it through Weirdpunk Books, the publisher who brought my novella The Wingspan of Severed Hands into life last year.

My take on the artist and model dynamic in “Studies After The Human Figure” explores impermanence, fetishism, death, desire…you know, the usual. It’s a piece that I hope reads a bit like viewing a Witkin or Neal Auch photograph. I went through quite a few permutations of the piece trying to create a self-destructing or rotting text. I admit, I didn’t fully succeed although I love the piece for what it is. The challenge of words that un-write themselves remains an elusive and unfulfilled goal.

Another new story about the undoing of mind and language is We Have Always Lived In The Soil in the anthology “Field Notes from a Nightmare: An Anthology of Ecological Horror.” Structurally I wanted to take on several challenges in this story, including a large cast of characters, flashbacks integrated into current action, and a main character’s cognitive breakdown infecting the text.

Both stories were fun experiments to write. I hope you’ll enjoy them and feel your mind slipping away into filthy sperm-soaked oblivion as you read.

Published by: Joe

Joe Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Joe is the author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands, The Couvade, and Convulsive. Their short fiction appears in publications such as Vastarien, Southwest Review, Pseudopod, and Children of the New Flesh. He’s been a flash fiction judge for Cemetery Gates Media as well as co-editing the art horror anthology Stories of the Eye from Weirdpunk Books. Find Joe (he/they) online at and on Twitter @horrorsong.

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