Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Halloween Comics: (Severed) Part One

Portrait c/o Valia Kapadai
& White Knuckle
Hello kiddies! Its your old pal Lycanthropy Lee aka The Creepy Crapper here once again to spine your tingle and goose your bumps. 

Its that time of year when a young ghoul's thoughts turn to all things frightful and gruesome - yes, its time for my annual bath *shriieeek!* - but fear not for it is also Halloween, so I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite spooky comics. They may chill you. They may shock you. They may even terrify you. But remember never, ever to read them in the dark.... because you won't be able to see the pages. That would be stupid, what are you some kind of nitwit....?


These are two comics by Scott Hampton that I read every Halloween as a personal tradition. The Upturned Stone is an original story written by Hampton himself; a nostalgic, Stephen King-ish tale of four boys who find themselves sharing dreams of a child murderer and the vengeful spirit that consumes them. Pigeons From Hell is an adaptation of Robert E Howard's classic haunted house/zombie story. Both comics are beautifully painted in such dark earthy tones that you can almost smell the dewy soil and dusty floorboards - and both instil genuine feelings of creepy unease.

Both stories have been published in several editions including Hampton's 2-volume Spookhouse anthology, the Sept 1993 issue of Heavy Metal (Upturned Stone) and The Mammoth Book Of Zombie Comics (Pigeons From Hell). We reviewed both these more fully in SPBM ep12

Becky Cloonan's two brilliant mini-comics of medieval horror are both now on my Must Read Every Halloween list. Her writing evokes the classic ghost stories of MR James and Edgar Allan Poe combined with the grime-spattered fantasy of George RR Martin and her stunning black and white artwork delivers a chill on every page.

You can buy both comics from Cloonan's website. You won't regret it. (By the way, for the next couple of days you can get 20% discount of all her prints in her online store if you use the password MADNESS.) We reviewed Wolves more fully in ep32 and The Mire in ep40.

I personally can't imagine anything less atmospheric than reading ghost stories on a flicking laptop screen, but I'm obviously a stupid stupid fool of an idiot because Emily Carroll uses the webcomic form to create the cleverest and creepiest comics you are ever likely to read. Genuinely unnerving, genuinely enthralling and genuinely innovative.

You can read both of these stories (and others) on Carroll's website HERE free, gratis and for nothing. How's that for a treat? We reviewed His Face All Red fully in ep26 and Margot's Room in ep34.

Reading this horror anthology by Rich McAuliffe & Mark Chilcott is about as comfortable as feeling someone lick your brain from the inside of your skull while Leatherface bends you over for a prostate exam. If you like horror that burrows into your subconscious and shits in your dreams then I urge you to buy this book.

If comics art has a Master Of Horror then it must surely be Bernie Wrightson and here are two prime examples of why, which almost bracket his career. Firstly we have a lush hardcover collection of all his early horror strips from legendary 70s magazines Creepy and Eerie, including eyemelting classics such as The Black Cat, Jenifer and The Pepper Lake Monster. Then we're bang up-to-date with Wrightson's current in-progress project which revisits the tour de force that was his 1983 illustrated version of Frankenstein. This time done in comics form ably abetted by partner-in-crime Steve Niles. Speaking of whom...

...if comics writing has a Master Of Horror then Steve Niles must surely be the leading contender for the bloody crown, and this original modern classic telling of an Arctic vampire siege must surely be the jewel in that crown. I have a few quibbles with Ben Templesmith's art, but what he lacks in clarity of character and storytelling he more than makes up in style, atmosphere and sheer visceral impact. 

Loyal SPBMers will need no introduction to this anthology of swamp horror as we championed it almost from conception. What was most gratifying is that the final book was even better than I expected with an almost perfect blend of horror and soul, which you can experience for yourself by purchasing it HERE.

Mike Mignola's big red creation is a stranger to no-one reading this I'm sure, and if you've never read Hellboy you really should, I mean seriously what the fuck have you been doing with your life?? Anyhoo, its all brilliant beautiful stuff, but this lycanthropic novella is a personal favourite. It can be found in Hellboy v3: The Chained Coffin And Other Stories along with other excellent shorts like The Corpse, The Iron Shoes and A Christmas Underground.

If your taste in Halloween treats runs to the likes Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers then this is the comic for you - a kind of Buffy The Slasher Slayer - as Tim Seeley's creation Cassie Hack hunts down maniacs, slashers and serial killers of the knives, masks and chainsaws variety. Very pretty, pretty witty and bloody good fun, this long running comic has been collected into several meaty omnibus editions.


Well kiddies, I'm spent. But join me after midnight when I reveal more revolting recommendations courtesy of a motley collection of internet fiends. See you then....

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