Search

Graphic Novelty²

Tag

Horror

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Ellie & Sandie from Last Night in Soho

March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the fourth year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have five bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman or women to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post comes from Kalie of Just Dread-Full, a superb blog centered on the horror genre. 

Guest post from Kalie of Just Dread-Full

Every year a group of bloggers and I write about fearless fictional women to celebrate International Women’s Day. Each of these bloggers will be featured on my blog this year. The blog-a-thon started with Michael of My Comic Relief and, after my post, will go on to feature Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2 and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Here’s my contribution to the Blog-a-thon this year!

Soho 1

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho opens in the warm home of a quaint British town, a home where main character Eloise basks in her vintage-inspired bedroom listening to music from the 60s. The opening scene is so reminiscent of life sixty years ago, in fact, that we may suspect that we are in 1961, not 2021, and because of Wright’s ability to establish a scene we may also feel like we’re temporarily inhabiting a much more idyllic time period than our own. Certainly, that is what Eloise/Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) imagines, the main character who we meet in the film’s beginning. Ellie has just been accepted to fashion school, and we get the impression, based on her excitement, that a glittering life in Great Britain’s fashion hub looks just as perfect, just as idyllic, as the 1960s do in her eyes. But sometimes attractive surface appearances mask a more insidious lurking reality—a fact which may be true of Soho in general, and is definitely true of Soho in the 60s, a reality that Ellie will soon find out.

Continue reading “Fiction’s Fearless Females: Ellie & Sandie from Last Night in Soho”

Dark Ark: Forty Nights

Back in 2020, I read an issue of Dark Ark: Instinct through Free Comic Book Day, and I said, “This dark what-if tale was fascinating. Many of us have heard the biblical story of Noah and the ark saving people and animals for the future, but this tale speculates that a sorcerer Shrae builds an ark to save the unnatural animals.” I went back to the source material, as Instinct had been a one-off based on this first volume, and I am a fan of much of Cullen Bunn’s work.

Family man Shrae, known for his evil ways, has a parallel journey to Noah during the biblical flood but is trapped on board with gruesome monsters who are all bloodthirsty and not doing well with being confined in the ark alongside other creatures. Juxtaposed along with these monsters, are a pair of unicorns who bemoan that they should have been on Noah’s boat instead (and really are a sly wink to these mythical creatures’ fate). Humans are chained in a hold, obviously, they are to be used as feed for the creatures, and Shrae’s adult children struggle with this, as they all were fellow villagers at one time. When Naga, a serpentine creature is found killed, a murder mystery is established, with many suspects. Kruul, a manticore, who has odd and unhealthy shifting allegiances with the humans, is not to be trusted nor are the vampires. Angels visit this ark, mistaking it for Noah’s (I’m sorry- but come on! There are only two arks in this flooded world, and they go to the wrong one??) and tie Shrae and Noah’s fate together. If Noah’s ark doesn’t survive, neither will Shrae’s.

The art by Juan Doe was necessarily dark and sketchy with pink and red overtones. The various creatures were appropriately monstrous-looking, with many mystical creatures from legends and myths portrayed. I especially enjoyed two facing 9-panel pages that had Shrae interrogating the monsters about Naga’s death. However, the additional family members were hard to distinguish from one another, as all were drawn very blocky-like with no distinguishing characteristics.

There are two more volumes in this series, and I aim to read them too as I wish to find out how these monsters of yore fare on the ark and then upon landing in a new world.

-Nancy

Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories

This creepy collection of one-panel stories was absolutely perfect! Each page is its own little eerie story that gives you an introduction to a greater narrative of your own choosing. As a child, I loved the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg which gave you pictures and a one-sentence prompt, and this graphic novel does the same. Joe Hill, of Locke & Key fame (and fellow IDW author), gives an introduction, so be on the lookout for one of the later illustrations to pay homage to his series.

As a librarian, the picture above made me pause…you never know what lurks around the corner behind a bookshelf! Other favorites of mine included any cemetery image, the girl building a puzzle, the boy retrieving his ball, the old man with his birthday cake, the thief in the hallway of portraits, and the last picture of a long-limbed animal in the woods.

Make sure you check out Coldrick’s art at his Tapas site for more horror one-shots, some of which are animated gifs! Enjoy this book that you can read all at once, or in small little bites, and remember…look behind you!

-Nancy

All pictures are from Coldrick’s online work.

Clean Room (Vol. 1): Immaculate Conception

Chloe Pierce’s fiance has committed suicide, leaving behind a self-help book as his only clue. Chloe spirals in her grief and become hospitalized herself. She comes to with the realization that in order to unravel the mystery of Philip’s death, she needs to investigate the author of the book: Astrid Mueller. She’s become THE self-help person to most of the world, including Hollywood. Her biggest success story is a former child actor whom she helped to get clean. As a reporter, Chloe has the clearance to get into her headquarters in Chicago and demand an audience with her. However, after seeing the fabled and feared “Clean Room,” it’s clear that Astrid and her company are not what they seem. The suicide of the child actor, under the same circumstances as Philip, has not only Chloe but the rest of the world questioning what it is Astrid actually does.

Horror is not usually a genre I read. I picked this up because Gail Simone co-wrote it with Jon Davis-Hunt, and as an extra bonus, Jenny Frisson created the covers. There’s a great start here for a commentary on the dangers of cults preying on faith and religion in a supernatural horror setting. The events here in the first volume are wrapped up nicely, yet open-ended enough to intrigue readers into the second volume.

The art was totally gross… but in a good way that befits the story and it’s creepy, ominous, and antagonistic tone. There is nice contrast between the inside of Astrid’s headquarters (sterile colors and precise linework) and the outside world (muddier colors and messier lines) that I appreciated.

I gotta say, it was entertaining enough for me to get through with (relative) ease, but it’s not one I’ll be continuing. There’s a reason I don’t read horror – I’m a certified scaredy cat – and it seems not even the great Gail Simone can convert me =P

– Kathleen

Simone, Gail, Jon Davies-Hunt, and Quinton Winter. Clean Room (Vol. 1): Immaculate Conception. 2016.

Redlands

A trio of witches take over the rural Florida town of Redlands, and play both victim and villain as the years go by.

Volume One: Sisters By Blood

The story opens in 1977 when the corrupt Redlands police force are trapped inside their police station when a lynching of the witch coven goes sideways. The three witches- Alice, Ro and Bridget- demand sacrifice to remain strong and many officers are killed. Skip to modern-day, and the women are masquerading as police detectives who are dealing with a magical serial killer who seems to be on to them. There are some additional flashbacks to 1984 and a sex trade cartel that Bridgit is trying to infiltrate. I was rather confused at the end because it seems as if the soul of a teen prostitute long-dead inhabits Bridget’s body and wants revenge years later. In the midst of this, there are lots of sexual encounters and violence, but the idea of these flawed witches trying to right some wrongs was enough to capture my attention and wonder where the story will go next.

I am familiar with the author, Jordie Bellaire, as a colorist on many of my graphic novel reads, so it was interesting to have her in another role. She mixes together an intriguing horror and feminist vibe, reminiscent of Hex Wives that I read recently. The artwork is very sketchy, which I’ve noticed more of lately, and isn’t always a very attractive look. The women are drawn with a realistic but seductive look, as the female artist, Vanesa Del Rey, understands the feminine body. The coloring is dark to represent the swampy bayous of the region and the murky narrative.

Volume Two: Water On The Fire

After finding volume one intriguing, I looked up volume two to reserve but, but when I saw the cover there was no way I was going to order a copy through inter-library loan for my co-workers to see! Luckily, I found a copy through the online service Hoopla to read. While I am no prude, I was disappointed the cover is so very gratuitous.

This volume begins with a visit to the past- the way-back past! We find Alice in ancient Egypt (why would she be named Alice back then??), Ro in Viking era Ireland, Bridget during the Salem Witch Trial time period and their “Father” in all three eras who turned them all into witches and demands obedience. We learn more about Bridget’s police partner Casper (who is a ghost, hence the name), Ro’s adopted clairvoyant daughter Itsy, Bridget’s sometimes lover Laurent, and the revenge-seeking teen prostitute Nancy who is still inhabiting Bridget’s body- and it is becoming difficult to keep all the details straight.

This volume ends in a cliff-hanger of sorts- the witch’s evil father is pulling strings and setting the three women up to be on opposite sides of a crisis that only can result in bloodshed. It has been over two years since this volume with no more issues on the horizon, so my guess is the series was dropped. No loss- while it started out promisingly the narrative threads became too convoluted for me to understand or really care about. The artwork didn’t help, for it was often too scratchy and dark to pick up on details that might have helped carry the story. I hope that Bellaire keeps on writing, she just needs to streamline her stories.

-Nancy

No way was the cover going to be used in my post header picture!

Stillwater

In the town of Stillwater, nobody dies. That’s not just a promise…it’s a threat.

Ne’er-do-well, Daniel, who has recently been fired and beat up by a bouncer when he was a jerk at a bar, receives a letter telling him that a great aunt has died. Hoping for an inheritance, he heads to the small town of Stillwater with his best friend Tony to investigate. The town is off the beaten track and a police officer stops them on the outskirts, warning the two men to behave. While there they witness a boy being pushed off a building and with no townspeople reacting to his fall. They are flabbergasted when the boy recovers quickly and runs away, revealing the secret of the town to the two men. Tony is killed by the formally affable police officer, but it is revealed that Daniel was a former resident of the town who was smuggled out as a toddler, so his life is spared.

Daniel, who was known as Tommy as a child, meets his mother Laura who had made the sacrifice of secretly sending him away so he could grow up and not be eternally caught in the body of a small child. No explanation is given as to why suddenly the town inhabitants stopped aging and miraculously heal from accidents. They are naturally afraid of outsiders finding out and the government swooping in to do experiments on them, so they remove themselves from society, and iron-clad rules are established to keep them safe. But this isn’t natural, and people are struggling as the decades go by. There are now some splinter groups who want to rebel and leave town, and of course, Daniel is chaffing at being a prisoner in a toxic community he doesn’t remember. Warped by power, leaders will do anything it takes to stay in control, and some plot threads are left open to build on.

The art establishes a realistic small-town atmosphere. All the characters are unique in looks and personalities, with a good artistic representation of the different walks of life within the town’s inhabitants. I enjoyed the panel configurations, there was a nice variety of small and large panels that pushed the action forward. The coloring is subdued and fits the narrative of immortality dragging on, with no new experiences or people livening their lives up.

The book reminded me of the sci-fi book Pines by Blake Crouch, in that people are trapped in a seemingly idealistic town, but a secret is rotting the town from within and the graphic novel series Revival by Tim Seely and Mike Norton in which a strange phenomenon changes a town forever. I enjoyed this first volume in this new series, and want to tune in to see how Daniel, Laura, and all the other townspeople cope with the so-called gift of eternal life.

-Nancy

Out of Skin

Happy Halloween! This little story is delightfully creepy to read tonight and is by the esteemed Emily Carroll who wrote Through The Woods.

Illustrated in Carroll’s trademark black and red, a lonely woman in the woods finds a pit of dead girls from a nearby town. She buries them but a strange tree grows on the burial site. Back in her cottage, the dead women call to the woman and later seem to invade her home. She thinks of her mother, father and cousin, all dead, and you may begin to suspect that the woman herself is not innocent. Is she delusional or are the women seeking vengeance? When a traveling man comes to visit, and she hints that they have had a prior relationship, you will wonder if the man killed the townswomen or was it this woman out of jealousy. That this atmospheric tale is so ambiguous makes it all the better.

Carroll’s work is subversive, for the horror is implied and not always shown. Closeups of jagged teeth, strange eyes and wispy hands support the ghastly underpinnings of the story. The coloring and shading are delicate and eerie with the red used sparingly but with great precision to the mood of the short story. As you scroll downwards through the webcomic, it lends to the idea that you are seeing the deep pit yourself and are caught in the dark woods with an unstable and perhaps dangerous narrator.

What is extra delightful about this sinister tale, is that you can read it online for free! Read it for yourself at: Out of Skin.

-Nancy

Remina

A sentient planet is on a collision course with Earth!

A scientist, Dr. Oguro, discovers a rogue planet beyond our solar system and names it after his daughter, which leads to much public adoration paid to the teen Remina. But soon the planet starts to journey towards Earth, devouring all other planets and moons in its wake. Soon Remina’s fans turn against her, thinking her namesake planet is coming because of her influence. She is then on the run, with only a few of her most infatuated fans helping her escape from the mob, who are intent on crucifying her. Once the planet arrives at Earth, it is clear it is not a planet after all, but a strange giant organism intent on destroying all of humanity. Will Remina survive the mobs and the deadly alien?

Author and illustrator Junji Ito is well known for his distinctive and intricate black and white panels. I loved the macabre art in Ito’s classic body-horror manga Uzumaki, and enjoyed his short story collection Venus in the Blind Spot. I mentioned in both reviews that even if the narrative dips into absurdness at times, the art keeps you riveted. However, that was not the case in this book, for I could not overcome the needed suspension of disbelief. It would have helped greatly if I was rooting for Remina to survive, but she was purely a damsel in distress the entire time and had absolutely no personality. While the art remained as captivating and creepy as ever, which is always Ito’s strength, the narrative fell far short. I felt dissatisfied with a story I was counting on to be scary but instead found to be ridiculous.

-Nancy

The Sixth Gun: Cold Dead Fingers

As I am a big fan of Cullen Bunn, mostly because of his Harrow County and Bone Parish series, I have circled this title a few times but hadn’t found the time for it yet. Luckily for me, my Goodreads comics group choose this supernatural western for this month’s group read!

Set some years after the Civil War, we learn of six powerful guns, each containing a dark power. Confederate General Hume had discovered all six guns and divvied them up among his evil cohorts and wife Missy. But a priest was able to murder him and took control of Hume’s gun, as ownership only passes after the death of the owner. Dark magic is used to keep Hume in suspended animation, not truly dead, so his eternally youthful wife takes it upon herself to find the sixth gun and reunite it with her husband so he can use it to unleash further destruction. In a parallel journey, Drake Sinclair, formally one of Hume’s henchmen but who turned away from owning one of the other guns, wishes to obtain the sixth gun for himself. Missy’s Pinkerton detectives and Drake converge on the isolated farmstead of the former priest and his step-daughter Becky. Becky inadvertently grabs her step-father’s gun when he is killed in the shoot-out, now making her the sole owner of the gun. And now the battle for ownership of the gun begins!

The characters were intriguing- Drake was an anti-hero whose motives were a bit suspect, Missy was at first a damsel in distress but started gaining a backbone later in the story, Billjohn was a tough gunslinger who had a heart of gold, Missy was slavishly devoted to her husband, while Hume was a caricature of a crazed tyrant. There were several epic battles and a cliffhanger that points to more adventures for Drake and Becky.

The art by Brian Hurtt seemed much too cartoony at first, but I soon stopped noticing and I felt it fit the narrative. There were a lot of supernatural aspects to the story, and the loose art style represented it well, without having to get into realistically gruesome depictions. The action was depicted in four to six panels a page, one-page spreads were uncommon. As it’s set in the Old West there is an appropriately sepia look to the panels, along with red shading to represent the bloodshed and hellish landscapes. However, there was one very distracting art choice towards the end- writing out all the noise effects as words during one certain battle. Used sparingly, words can be used effectively in art, but it was overdone.

This proved to be a solid start to a long series- nine volumes with several spin-offs. While I don’t know if I will continue with it, this horror-imbued western appealed to me and I was glad that it was part of my Halloween reads this month.

-Nancy

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑