Hey, my name is Charles Phipps and I’m the author of ESOTERRORISM and the Supervillainy Saga. I write for Ragnarok Publications, which is a mid-tier fantasy and science fiction publisher which prides itself on its grimdark novels. I’ve also written four articles for GRIMDARK MAGAZINE and am a regular contributor.
I also wrote this article for the SF Signal, “The Appeal of Grimdark.” http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/07/the-appeal-of-grimdark-by-c-t-phipps-author-of-esoterrorism/
As you can imagine, I disagree with your essay. Well parts of it.
Ultimately, I think as you say that grimdark is a form of shorthand but that’s what genre is. You say Amazon.com won’t have a grimdark section but that’s a decision of publishers who can and will ask for them to put their books “under” grimdark if they think that label will help them sell more copies. Certainly, smaller tier publishers and plenty of authors like the label rather than shy away from it.
I was there on RPG.net when grimdark was first coined as a pejorative against the kind of fantasy which wallowed in its own darkness. However, there’s always been a taste for individuals who enjoy an area existing between horror and fantasy. Sword and Sorcery, Low Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Grognard, and others are labels which get slapped on stories which are trying to communicate, “fantasy but harder, grittier, and more hardcore.” Heavy Mithril as a subset of metal wouldn’t exist if this weren’t an impulse within the fandom which has always existed.
Grimdark is as good a name for it as any.