Bizarro Horror Fiction Author MP Johnson | Freak Tension Zine

Information about writer MP Johnson's horror fiction and bizarro fiction, Freak Tension zine and more.

My latest book is out now from Eraserhead Press! It’s called Drag Queen Dino Fighters and it’s about drag queens doing battle with space dinosaurs in the streets of Los Angeles! Don’t tell anyone, but it’s also about family, and getting older and prioritizing what’s important in your life. Mostly though, it’s about prehistoric creatures smashing stuff and drag queens being fabulous. Check out the cover art from Jim Agpalza:

Drag Queen Dino Riders

How about those guns?

If you’ve been following me, you may know that I’ve been working on this book for about three years now. For a while, it was going to be released under the title Dinosaurs & Drag Queens, but I wanted something a little zanier. Anyway, I’m proud of how I juxtaposed one of my childhood obsessions (dinosaurs) against one of my current obsessions (drag queens). I hope you dig it too!


Have I ever told you how much I love dinosaurs? I had a big bucket of them when I was a kid. I would build cities out of blocks and have triceratops and ankylosaurus smash through them, roaring wildly (actually, I was pretty quiet about it). Probably half of the stories I wrote as a kid were about dinos.

I decided to revisit my childhood obsession by pitting the prehistoric beasts against one of my more recent obsessions: drag queens. Oh, and PS they are space dinosaurs.

The book is called Drag Queen Dino Fighters. It is coming May 1st from Eraserhead Press, but is available for preorder now.

Check out the cover art by Jim Agpalza:

Drag Queen Dino Riders

Want to know more? Here’s the description from the back cover:

From the author of Dungeons & Drag Queens comes a fierce bizarro tale of dinosaur-riding realness.

Ivanna Deflower’s chance at drag superstardom passed her by long ago. She has resigned herself to a normal life raising her son with her ex-wife while occasionally hosting Sunday morning drag queen bingo. And she’s fine with that. She really is.

Until her life is turned upside down by the one thing that’s guaranteed to give a past-her-prime drag queen another shot at the big time: a baby triceratops that can out-dance even the youngest and most sickening divas in Los Angeles.

But the climb to the top isn’t going to be easy. Not only does she have to contend with her shade-throwing former friends, there’s a certain big game-hunting drag king with a vendetta and access to cybernetic technology. And what about all those bright lights in the sky and the shaking ground? Even if she can sashay around all of these obstacles, what is she going to do about her own family?

Drag Queen Dino Fighters is a fun and fabulous high-heeled adventure story that further proves why Wonderland Book Award winner MP Johnson is considered one of the most exciting rising stars in the bizarro fiction genre.

2016 was a banner year for me. Now I’m putting together my plans for 2017. Depending on how much random shit goes off the rails, it looks like it’s going to be a fun year.

On the book front, I’ll be releasing:

  • Nails (Lazy Fascist Press) – This is a true sad comedy about the messy business of dealing with gender stuff. Release date: TBD.
  • Drag Queen Dino Fighters (Eraserhead Press) – Drag queens fighting space dinosaurs. What more do I need to say? Release date: May.
  • Lonely Tentacle (Bizarro Pulp Press) – Zany Lovecraftian bizarro about a tentacle that breaks free from a god and tries to make its way on Earth. Release date: Fall.

My press, Weirdpunk Books, will be releasing Zombie Punks Fuck Off (currently accepting submissions), edited by Sam Richard.

I’ve pretty much nailed down my convention schedule for the year, so if you want to nerd out with me, check my appearances page.

I’ve also been cast in a music video by one of my favorite bands and will play a roller-skating drag queen gang member in Dolly Deadly 2.

Who knows, I’ll probably put together a zine or chapbook along the way too.

A Quick Look Back At 2016

Like I said, 2016 rocked like hell. There were 5 books released with MP Johnson on the cover:

  • Berzerkoids (Bizarro Pulp Press) – My first short story collection.
  • Lake Lurkers (Severed Press) – Aquatic terror set in Minneapolis.
  • Neon Trash (Weirdpunk Books) – A guide to forgotten B-movies of the ’80s.
  • Mondo Bizarro (Strangehouse Books) – An anthology of bizarro fiction edited by me.
  • Hybrid Moments (Weirdpunk Books) – A Misfits tribute book I co-edited with Sam Richard.

I published a collection of the best material from the 15-year run of my zine, Freak Tension. Remembered how much I love zines in the process.

Razorcake also published a zine of my One Punk’s Guide to Outlaw Country. And of course I contributed a ton of reviews to Razorcake.

Playing against type, I was featured in a short horror film called Meow as a stoner hippy pizza delivery guy. If you look realllly close, I also can be seen in the audience in the movie theater scene in the short film When Susurrus Stirs, based on the story by Jeremy Robert Johnson (no relation).

Oh, and I went to a ton of cons and saw Iron Maiden twice and the original Misfits once and lots of other shows and cries and hugs and life and shit.



Halloween month has been absolutely crazy. Four new books with my name on the cover.

First, meet Lake Lurkers, a tale of alien tentacle monsters climbing out of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis and eating rich people in the neighborhood where I actually live in real life. This sucker is out now from Severed Press and you can grab a copy of the eBook or paperback on Amazon.

Lake Lurkers by MP Johnson

I also brought my obsession with movie guidebooks to a whole new level with Neon Trash: Forgotten B-movies of the ’80s. Check out that glorious cover by Justin Coons. You can also snatch this one on Amazon.

Neon Trash: Forgotten B-Movies of the '80s by MP Johnson

Another book based on one of my obsessions is Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits from my publishing company, Weirdpunk Books, edited by myself and Sam Richard. A collection of stories that shed new light on my favorite songs. Available on Amazon. PS, if you haven’t read my review of the Misfits reunion show in Chicago, you should check it out when you get a chance. Anyway, I just appeared as Maddy Manslaughter at the release party for this one last week, and it was a blast.

Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits by MP Johnson and Sam Richard

Out new from StrangeHouse Books is Mondo Bizarro, a collection of bizarro fiction stories that I handpicked a couple years ago and is now finally seeing the light of day. Amazon that sucker as well and you got yourself a shopping spree.

Mondo Bizarro by MP Johnson

Incidentally, I also have a heavy metal bizarro short story called “All Request” in Mondo Bizarro’s sister anthology, Tall Tales With Short Cocks Volume 5 from Rooster Republic. I mean, if you’re buying stuff, that’s on Amazon too.

Last thang! Razorcake released my One Punk’s Guide to Outlaw Country as a standalone zine that you can buy or download. It looks cool as hell.

One Punk's Guide to Outlaw Country by MP Johnson

I really should take a break after this month, but I’ve actually got a million cool things up my sleeve. Thanks for supporting all this insanity!

My publishing company, Weirdpunk Books, is finishing up its second release, a book of short stories inspired by the songs of my favorite band of all time: the Misfits.

Check out the cover art by Justin T. Coons:


There will also be a limited edition version only for Kickstarter backers with cover art by Bill Hauser, who you know from the cover art for Berzerkoids, among other things. There is also a bunch of original art and other cool stuff for Kickstarter backers.

This is grimy, small-press stuff, so getting preorders through Kickstarter is crucial for the book to succeed. Please consider pitching in. The prices you see for the Kickstarter are not inflated. They’re actually less than what you’ll pay for the book on Amazon when it goes live, so take advantage of this deal. Plus everything comes signed.

Check out the Kickstarter.

Many people have told me that my books would make great movies.

This comment comes in two variations. The first is from people who have read one of my books. I love to hear the comment in this context, because it typically means that the imagery I created came to life in some way that resonated with them and they’d like to see it up on the silver screen. That is cool.

The second variation is far more disheartening. It usually plays out like this: I’m at a convention and someone stops by my table and starts flipping through one of my books. I describe it to them and their eyes light up. For a moment, I think they’re into it, they get it. But then they put the book down and say, “Sounds like a great idea for a movie,” before walking away. This is perplexing as fuck.


In either scenario, this compliment comes with the implication that having a book turned into a movie would be a step up, which makes no sense, because books are the superior art form.

Books Are Superior To Movies

It’s science, right? Reading books exercises your brain, fights off Alzheimer’s, reduces stress, helps you sleep and more. The studies are cited in this Huffington Post article, and Psychology Today ran a great piece on the specific benefits of reading fiction.

But let’s push science aside for a second and talk about what books do that movies don’t. Books are interactive. The words serve as guides for your own imagination, which does the real heavy lifting when you read. It’s your imagination that makes the author’s words come to life in your head. Furthermore, books allow you to get inside characters in a way that movies don’t. They aren’t constrained by a run time, allowing for a level of elaboration that can rarely be seen on film. There are also abstractions that cannot be accomplished within movies.

Put it this way: when was the last time a book you loved was turned into a movie and you didn’t groan and say, “The book was better”?

And I get it, reading is haaaaaaaard. You do have to put in the work and sometimes… well, a lot of times, it’s too much. I love movies too, but I acknowledge it as a more passive form of art. Still, there are things that movies can do that books can’t really do. Jump scares, everybody! Oddly enough, the movies I love the most are low budget B-movies that allow for more interaction, because they demand that you see them for what they were intended to be, rather than what the budget allowed them to be, and that creates a more active relationship, if you allow it to.

What Books Mean To Me

I went on a straight-up tirade the last time someone told me I should turn one of my books into a screenplay and have someone make it into a movie (like it’s that easy).

The bottom line is that I write because I love to write. This is my art. This is what I’ve been doing since I was a kid. Books are my end goal. They are not a stepping stone on the path to a film career. I’m not a failed filmmaker slumming in books. This is it for me. This is my thing. All of my weird little heart is in these insane books I write.

Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t like a film made of my movie, because I would, if only because I understand the reality that the “Your book would make a great movie” comment is such clear evidence of: films have a wider audience. I would like that audience. I would also like money, because books don’t make money, mainly because people walk past them en route to movies.

If I sound bitter, whatever. I’m not. I’m passionate about what I do, and I get bummed out at all the little ways in which people poop on the art form that chose me.

Of course, none of this really matters, because everyone knows that music is truly the superior art form.

Berzerkoids is the book I’ve dreamed of releasing ever since I started writing short stories when I was a kid. It’s taken a long time, but it is here now, and I’m super proud of it. Under that beautiful Bill Hauser cover are some of my favorite short stories I’ve written over the years. Here are some notes on where they all came from:

Berzerkoids By MP Johnson

Berzerkoids Are Here

I have performed this story all over the country. It’s the first story I ever wrote with performance in mind. I built it like a hardcore song, with a simple, shouted chorus that repeats throughout. This turned out to be very effective, to the point that at some of my readings I’ve noticed people in the crowd joining in when I yelled “Berzerkoids are here!”

I Summoned A Demon With A Vagina Mouth

When Bill Hauser delivered the cover art for Freak Tension #15, he was very proud of the fact that he had made the demon’s mouths look like vaginas. I was so psyched about the vagina-mouthed demon that I wrote a story about it.


I’ve been going to punk shows for more than 20 years. I still love soaking in the energy that only really comes from a live experience, but I often notice that I’m one of the oldest people at a show. It makes me wonder why people stop. Is it work and family commitments? Is it the ache in the lower back that comes from standing around all night at a shitty bar? Or is it something deeper? Is it an acknowledgement that you’re never going to feel the same way about all this as you did when you were 15? And what would it take to make it all feel fresh and new again?

Loving Arms

I’ve made no secret of my love for Charles Band and Full Moon films. In this story, that love is manifested pretty clearly in the main character, a sentient, mangled teddy bear with robot arms. Couple that with my adoration of drag queens and you’ve got an epic battle on your hands.

Hearts And Caterpillars

I went through a phase in which many of my stories were about weak men involved in bad relationships. This is odd, because at the time I was in a great relationship that really helped me grow as a person and become who I am today. But the grass is always greener, and perhaps I didn’t recognize the value of that relationship then. In this story, the main character, a sort of submissive man-child named Percy, catches his girlfriend in a weird sex triangle and finds strength with the help of an interdimensional caterpillar.

Killer Nails

I love fetishes. They intrigue the hell out of me. People can totally become captives to them, yet they are sort of empowering in that a person can feel sexual attraction in a way that few or nobody else can. And I’m not just talking about “I like boobs.” That’s not a fucking fetish. I’m talking about shoe fetishes and nylon fetishes and exercise ball fetishes. I love nail fetishes. Shit, I just love nails. I also like pop music, monsters and really gross shit. I brought it all together and created one of my sickest stories.

Looking Fab And Fighting Scabs

Most people can’t even grasp what a crossdresser is up against. There are so many external and internal forces just doing everything they can to crush a girl. This is about a crossdresser who just wants to go out and dance, but one last thing stands in the way.

I Think I’ll Donate This Severed Head To The Salvation Army

I performed this at a punk show once between bands. Someone came up to me afterward and told me I shouldn’t say “bitch.” I got really confused. Did they think this was a true story? It bummed me out that they thought I was the sort of person who would refer to a woman as a bitch. I would never. But I have no problem at all creating fictional stories about unsympathetic assholes who say all sorts of dumb ass stuff. Furthermore, I would never get rid of any of my severed heads.


When I performed this one at a punk show in Green Bay, I noticed one audience member run out of the room when all the slicing and bleeding got really heavy. Afterward, she approached me and said, “I had to leave. I couldn’t take it anymore. I will never forget it!” That’s high praise to me.

Through Time, Knuckles First

I wanted to add a new layer to time travel in this story. What happens if you travel through time and stuff looks pretty much the same as it was? Do you just get pizza and hang out with drag queens and fight clown mobs like usual? Probably.

The Final Failure Of A Professional Small Animal Inside-Outer

This was the title story of my first non self-published standalone publication. I had done plenty of zines and self-pubbed chapbooks, and my short stories had been published in a bunch of other publications, but never before had a publisher taken a chance on a fully MP Johnson standalone thing. Cloud City Press accepted this and published it during a rough patch in my life. The fact that it came out and was pretty successful really gave me hope for the future and got me to re-focus on my writing. This story means a lot to me because of that.

Curse Of The Curse

My first censored story! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve worked slime and gross stuff into my writing. I just get so caught up in these worlds that I create that sometimes I forget that ooze and gore and whatnot is a no no for some people. The original publisher of this piece liked it, but didn’t think it needed to be quite so drippy, so I went through and toned it down. It was still fun, but not 100 percent me. Berzerkoids contains the original, uncensored version.

Record Collector Scum

Another piece exploring the world of aging punk rockers, particularly those with enough money to buy all those valuable old records. I just like writing about punk rock and punk rockers. It’s a world that means a lot to me, and I’m constantly trying to capture the energy of punk rock shows in written form. It’s probably not possible, but I’ll keep trying.

Story Of A Board

When I lived in Green Bay, I did a lot of vandalism. A lot. I don’t even want to think of how many dollars worth of property I destroyed. One night, some friends and I were out smashing stuff. I found an old board in a pile of trash and I ended up destroying a bunch of shit with it. I took the board home and started thinking about how the board felt about the whole thing. Did it like smashing? What would it really like to smash? Monsters? Yeah! So I wrote a story from the board’s perspective. I think I’ve still got that board somewhere.

Feed My Corpse To Sharks

My friends Darci and Nikki and I were driving around. Nikki started talking about shark diving. She was kind of obsessed with sharks, I think. I wanted to swim with sharks too, but maybe not quite as much. We made a pact that we would go to San Francisco and go shark diving at some point. Somehow this turned into talking about death, and dying, and I think Nikki said, “If I die, just feed my corpse to sharks.” And so I wrote this story.

The Songwriter’s Fingers

This is my favorite of all the stories I’ve written. If people read one of my stories ever, I really hope it’s this one. To me, it just really gets the mix of heart and gross just right. I was inspired to write it after reading the biography of one of my favorite country singers, Billy Joe Shaver, who lost some fingers in a mill accident. The story isn’t about him in any way, but about the recipient of those fingers, and what power they might have contained.

Rise Of The Berzerkoids

I’m super proud of “Berzerkoids Are Here,” but I also thought I could get slimier, weirder, meaner… so I did.