The thing we want to do with the cryptid books is what we want to do with all our books – tell adventure-mystery-eerie-cool stories about everybody else.
You know who I mean by everyone else, so I'll say little other than across volume blue and volume silver we have a siren in a wheelchair, an autistic sea monster, a trans shapeshifter, gay characters, disabled characters, minority characters – these two books (and a pending third) are filled with adventure tales about people who are these things but not just, not only – and half the time simply incidentally.
For me it was like breathing deep, getting to read these stories. Like going from black and white to color. Yes, I want to know what happens when a man missing an arm meets a cryptid with even less, and understand in my bones why that story matters to me as a human being living with other humans.
I want to understand the special interest of an autistic woman and delight in what happens when she at last, at last, and finally meets the creature she's been interested in her whole life.
And because no one alive hasn't felt out of place and wanted to be seen, I want to read about the goat-boy who's nothing like what they say he is, and discover how he finds a way to live a good life even amidst people who fear him – until a few don't.
I want to be the woman who finds strangeness in her back garden yet instead of destruction she slows herself damn well down to see if there's a reason to be afraid – and when their isn't she sees there is a reason to help.
I want to be the tiny talking fish with the big confidence, the monster with dementia who's loved, the darkest shadow that brings comfort, the gargoyle that grants a wish – and then feel my heart grow two sizes at what the child wishes.
The stories in these books – and why we ended up with two volumes (and a third on the way) – is because there are so many stories like these to tell and there aren't enough of them yet, there aren't nearly enough stories of everyone else.
Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging
Volume Blue and Volume Silver add to the world at least a few more, and if you want found families, love stories, ghosts and sea-hags and will-o-the-wisps, if you want origin stories, occasional vengeance, and creatures of all kinds emerging…being seen and seeing, well maybe these books are what you're after.
I hope so, because we'll be publishing more voices, more stories, more adventure-mystery-eerie-cool like these.
Atlin Merrick is commissioning editor of Improbable Press as well as the editor of both volumes of Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging.