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Return to Snakeland – WNY’s Hulking House of Satanic Worship in the 1980s

(L-R) Aaron O’Brian, Jason Gusmann | Photo Credit – Harper/Roselli

Just when you think that you know everything about WNY, someone tells you that there was once a grain elevator where young people would worship Satan, back in the 80’s. The place was called Snakeland.

Jason Gusmann began writing a semi-autobiographical novel back in 2012, recounting much of what took place at the notorious teenage party location, with a Satanic bent. Eventually, Gusmann’s writings attracted the attention of artist Aaron O’Brian who was also obsessed with Snakeland in his teens. O’Brian offered to team up with Gusmann, to help tell the tale by illustrating the novel, Return to Snakeland

Over the summer of 1985 a sophomore-to-be named Hannah Graeber (15 years old) was strangled to death and her body left on the railroad tracks behind a series of abandoned grain elevators

The crux of the newly released graphic novel revolves around both legends and myths, as they pertain to a number of murders and suicides that took place in WNY. Gusmann has tied the morbid occurrences to a particular gran elevator where Satanic graffiti and occult gatherings ran rampant – a place that was known to incubate evil, which then emanated outwards into the community. And all of this predated the internet, which has taken this sort of macabre spellbinding to an entirely different level

In order to get the graphic novel off the ground, Gusmann and O’Brian launched a successful crowdfunding effort. 

After retaining Buffalo-based printers and binders to produce a limited edition run of Return to Snakeland, the following select local outlets were designated as retails outlets: Talking Leaves Books, Gutter Pop Comics, Empire Comics, Revolver Records, and Second Reader Books.

Satanism, Murder, Suicide, and Heavy Metal!

I like Snakeland because it makes sense to me,” wrote Gusmann. “It represents a lot of things: our area’s proud industrial past turned into a big rusty hulk of shit, the brute force and ugly vulgarity of Metal, the Bad Place where the Bad Kids go to do Bad Things. It also represents the Haunted House, the Abandoned Castle, the eerie and empty Mansion on the Hill overshadowing the quaint little village…”

To learn more about Return to Snakeland, visit Buffalo Comic Book Creators on Facebook.

Lead image: (L-R) Jason Gusmann, Aaron O’Brian | Photo Credit – Harper/Roselli

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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