Thursday, October 26, 2017

Comics Lust 10/28/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/heat-hater Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s finally cooled down some, but I’m still dressed in shorts and a tank top and my puppy executive team and I had to stick to the shade on our daily business walk-and-talk. It just ain’t right, especially given that Halloween is so close we can practically taste it. And taste it we shall. Reverse Obie has gone out to buy a big bag of pumpkin M&Ms, and Tulip went out to get a couple bottles of Avery Brewing’s Pump[Ky]n ale, which is a pumpkin porter aged in bourbon barrels that clocks in at a whopping 18.8% ABV. Don’t worry, though, this will be for our annual Halloween Extravaganza! Which means we have to agree on a couple good horror movies to watch this evening. I’m thinking Pumpkinhead, Jeepers Creepers 2, or The Witch; I can’t wait. One thing we can agree on is reading a whole heapin’ mess of spoooooky comics. So grab yourself a pumpkin beer or a strong ginger ale, watch some scary movies, and after that check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself…and Comics!

I love Halloween. Ever since I was a kid growing up in Ohio, Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays. Sure, Christmas brought some fantastic toys, but Halloween brought the chance for me to become someone else, whether that was a superhero (Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc.) or something less noble (Godzilla, a vampire, a devil, a creature from the black lagoon). It also didn’t hurt to get a truckload of candy…not counting that revolting candy corn garbage, of course. Part of the joy of Halloween—and possibly even better—is the time spent preparing for Halloween. There’re scary movies to watch, homes decorated in a sinister fashion far beyond the realm of sanity, pumpkin flavored everything, and best of all scary comic books.

One of the absolute best horror comics of all time is Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s masterwork, Locke & Key, from IDW. For those unaware, Hill is none other than Stephen King’s son and is an accomplished horror novelist in his own right, but as much as I adore his books, Locke & Key is what pulled me in wholeheartedly. To be honest, I came to this comic a bit late in the game—after two trades were already out—but after months of glowing praise, I took the plunge and was hooked by the end of the first issue. It’s the story of the Locke siblings (two boys and a girl) and their mother, who move into the family estate after the children’s father is brutally murdered. It’s at the Keyhouse mansion where the kids discover magical keys that unlock marvelous powers, but a sinister presence looks to free itself from its imprisonment and wreak havoc on those who hold the keys. There’re ghosts, demons, killers, strong family bonds, history, love, loss, sacrifice, bad decisions, and plenty of rough goings. Hill makes you immediately love the characters and Rodriguez brings so much emotion and drama to every panel that there were times I cried in between being stressed out and scared, which was often. This series is a treasure and one to be reread on a regular basis. Thankfully, it is readily available in many different formats and will someday soon be a television series on Hulu.

The Upturned Stone is graphic novel that’s not that easy to get ahold of, yet is something everyone who loves a great ghost story—and I mean great!—must read, is Scott Hampton’s delightfully creepy The Upturned Stone. Originally published in the September 1993 issue of Heavy Metal Magazine (volume 17, issue 4) and then as a lovely 64-page hardcover from Kitchen Sink Press, The Upturned Stone is a cross between the movies Stand by Me and Ghost Story and brought to life on the page through Hampton’s oh-so-lovely watercolors. It’s a story of friendship, of growing into adolescence, and the feeling of childhood slipping away. It’s about the scary stories kids tell one another, of missing children, of places that send chills up your spine, and the lore of the house that is surely haunted. The Upturned Stone is something truly special that I read at least once every year and is a book I have given to many of my closest friends. If you are in the mood for a quick read that will remind you of what it was like to have such a tight-knit group of friends before the steady creep of adulthood caused the inevitable fracturing of those childhood bonds, then look no further than this haunting, lovely tale.

Speaking of magazines, the black and white Warren Publishing magazines that my brother and I would sneak glances at during our days in Ohio when visiting the local Clicks—a large department store of the time—would give us not only chills from the terrifying imagery, but also a fair amount of thrills from the scantily clad, and occasionally naked, beauties found within. At Clicks, we had the holy triumvirate to dazzle us: Creepy (#1–146), Eerie (#1–139), and, of course, Vampirella (#1–113). The thing about these Comic-Code-Authority-snubbing, non-comic-book magazines is that they drew in some powerhouse creators and contained some truly great stories and art. Jumping from one magazine to another, you can find such masters of the macabre as Archie Goodwin, Bruce Jones, and Doug Moench on writing duties, and true harbingers of horror on art such as Richard Corben, Bernie Wrightson, José González, Gray Morrow, Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Frank Brunner, and so many others. Even as an adult, some of the stories packed into each issue still manage to freak me out, or at the least fill me with a slight unease from both the written word and lovely inked line. Thankfully, you don’t have to shell out loads of money for the individual issues as Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella all have “Archive” volumes to give you tons of reading material for a good long while. Or, if you would rather dip your toe into these waters with a focus on a specific artist, the Creepy Presents… line of books collects stories drawn by Richard Corben, Bernie Wrightson, Steve Ditko, and Alex Toth to help introduce you to the wonderful world of Warren.

One writer/artist from Warren who went on to make some great horror comics and anthologies is Bruce Jones. In between stints in the Big Two superhero world, Jones put out some excellent material for Pacific Comics and then Eclipse Comics once Pacific collapsed. He had made quite a name for himself at Warren with his ability to give a reader a severe case of the willies, and his indie comics work continued that trend with series such as the following:
Unfortunately, the rights to these great works are a mess and there are no reprints or collections—as of yet—that I can find. So if you happen to come across any of these in a bargain bin, at a flea market, or at a yard sale, be sure to snatch them up quickly.

Moving into the modern age, Scott Snyder has a couple of impressive and freaky series out there that I can say from experience are enough to make you jump at every rustle of the bushes and every shifting shadow you come across as you walk your dog near the spooky, dark, nearby park. Wytches #1–6 (illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, published by Image Comics, 2014) offers the most honest to god terrifying interpretation of a “witch”—or rather ”wytch“—I have ever seen or read. These bipedal, misshapen monstrosities dwell in the forest and will promise you what your heart desires at a steep price…as a family finds out. (I have not read this comic since it came out and I just got the chills thinking about it. Time for a reread.) His other story of note is the seven-issue Severed (co-written by Scott Tuft, illustrated by Atilla Futaki, Image Comics, 2011) and is certain to give kids pause about running away from home, and remind adults to be wary of drifters. Both of Snyder’s books are perfect for ensuring you double and possibly triple check that the house is locked up nice and tight for the evening.

One thing that DC Comics has over Marvel is their distinguished horror comics that they were released during the ’60s and ’70s. Sure, Marvel had its share of monster comics, but most of those led to the creation of supernatural characters that expanded a brand; think Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, etc. DC, however, just wanted to tell straight up creepy stories and somehow dodge the restrictions of the oppressive Comic Code Authority.
I am sure there are a bunch of other short-lived DC series out there, but this is a great place to start; just know that reprints and collections are mostly nonexistent. Thankfully, most of the issues are standalone spooky tales, so picking them up piecemeal from bargain bins is always a good option. If you want more current and readily available frights from DC, you can always dive in with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing trades, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman trades, the Hellblazer trades, or the modern versions of House of Secrets and House of Mystery.

There are tons more horror comics to tingle your spine, but those are for another day. For now, here are a few others that you can find today and are definitely worthy of your time.
  • Rachel Rising (Everythinged by Terry Moore, published Abstract Studio) A woman rises from the grave in which her murderer buried her, and she begins the process of tracking down her killer. Touching, terrifying, and filled with characters I still love to this day.
  • Revival (Written by Tim Seeley, illustrated by Mike Norton, published by Image Comics) The dead start to come back to life, which might not seem like such a bad thing, but most of them come back wrong. Two sisters try to understand what was happened in their once sleepy and now quarantined town.
  • Manifest Destiny (written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image Comics) Lewis and Clark might have been tasked with exploring the uncharted regions of America, but what people don’t realize is that they were also given the responsibility of cataloguing and exterminating the monsters that roam out in the wild…that is if the can survive the journey. One of the best books currently hitting the stands.

This Week’s Reading List

Saga #48 (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics) This week’s reads are all about getting the band back together…most of the band anyways. Here, we check back in with Ghüs and Squire as they head out on an adventure, and the creators end a storyarc without ripping my heart out for once…although, it did almost make me cry. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #31 (Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics) Again, we get most of the band back together as Marcus, Maria, and the freshmen get close and loose with a little tab of this or that. Meanwhile, the traitor in their midst is offered a new ultimatum by none other than Viktor. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


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