* I don't think that the colors are too confrontational, red and black are strong and contrasting but they don't hurt the eyes to look at (at least not mine).
* Yes, there are too many sidebars, and they are confusing. If you can't remove them whole hog from the layout (I don't know why you couldn't do this, but I suppose it could be possible) then I would suggest just removing the content from one of the right side ones (at least, two sidebars side-by-side with no dividing line between them are hard to make sense of). In the same vein: there's an awful lot of stuff sitting in your sidebars. I would go through and prioritize potential content based on what will help visitors to a) find what they're looking for and/or b) figure out what the heck they're looking at.
* Previous/Next buttons... o.o WHERE ARE THEY? I randomly clicked on the 'Lucky Me' stories linked in the left sidebar and they are not interlinked. They are not even all tagged within your site. This makes navigating through a multi-part story annoying and potentially off-putting to readers and passers-by.
* The header image is fine in my opinion, it is a little cutesy but - if it fits your sites themes and mood - then it is fine. If, however, your stories have nothing to do with punk-rock fairies then perhaps you would want to change the image, so as not to confuse anyone passing by.
* As for the layout overall, my only real complaint is that it's not centered in my browser (Firefox 3.0), and is instead clumped on the left side of the screen, making it seem very crowded (especially with the three sidebars).
Additional comments which you have not asked for:
- the fourth 'sidebar' on your front page titled 'the stories' does make this page even more crowded, and I would consider taking that information out of the table/div/sidebar thing that it's in and simply putting it in the regular text area.
- the comment area at the bottom of the front page is kind of odd, but hey whatever floats your boat.
- finally, the 'by so and so' beneath the images heading your stories. I'm assuming that 'so and so' is the artist's name and not yours, as the name listed in the info is different. You might want to start labeling them as 'art/image by so and so' so as to avoid confusion