CR’S TOP FIVE
From Hell, Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Pete Mullins
First, let me say I don’t read nearly as many comics as the rest of 4TB, so the wheel on my wheelhouse has fallen off and is wobbling its way elsewhere. With that being said, even my amateur comic knowledge is aware that Alan Moore is kind of a big deal. However, in case someone who knows less than me about comics stumbles on our blog, I’ll drop a little knowledge on you. Watchmen, V for Vendetta, as well as From Hell, have all been adapted into movies. The dude’s a rockstar. Alan Moore could draw a crappy comic on the back of a Denny’s placemat and sell the movie rights to it the next day.
In From Hell, Moore rather ambitiously tries to tackle the illusion wrapped in a mystery stuffed in a Wonder Ball that is the Jack the Ripper Story. Moore, along with the wonderful art of Mullins and Campbell, weave an intricate tale of corruption, sinister plots, and shady government agendas that will have conspiracy theorists tipping their tinfoil caps to Mr. Moore. It’s bloody. It’s suspenseful. It’s pretty bloody awesome.
The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
I know, I know. You probably saw this and spit on your screen. “Hah! What an obvious pick, C.R. Read comics much? C.R. isn’t even a name, it’s two letters in the alphabet.” The Walking Dead is brilliant in any form. Comic, TV show, board game. Hell, if they made a Spanish soap opera based on The Walking Dead I’d watch it, and I don’t even know Spanish. Bottom line: I can’t not put Kirkman’s Dead on here. I’ve never encountered anything in my life that could tug at my heart strings, make me dread reading on, and love every second of it. Plus, zombies.
The Joker, Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo
Things I’m a fan of in movies, comics, etc.: crime noir, Batman, vengeful and grisly murders, The Joker. Azzarello and Bermejo’s The Joker has them all. Add Bermejo’s traditional-realistic mashup drawing style and, in the words of Carl Weathers, you’ve got yourself a stew goin’ on. Deemed “cured” by Arkham doctors, a man dressed as a macabre clown (The Joker) is released back to the general public of Gotham City (totally believable, right?). The Joker recruits the usual suspects: Killer Croc, The Penguin, Harley Quinn, as well as other, and plots to take back Gotham from The Dark Knight himself. While less of a horror comic and more of a revenge story, the plot and dark comic style did more than enough to tickle my spooky bone.
House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
House of Leaves is not a comic, but this is my article so I’m doing what I want. House is absolutely terrifying. While apartment hunting in LA Johnny Truant, a low-life partier, comes across The Navidson Record in a recently deceased man’s apartment. The Record is an unpublished narrative written by the man, Zampano. It centers around the Navidson family, who recently move into a house with a mind of its own. Written in an intensely abstract style, Danielewski’s words and style are unlike anything I’ve ever read. House got in my head like a parasite. It slowly consumed me like a quicksand. For a few dark days after reading, I felt that I had lived the book. Tell me that doesn’t sound fun as shit.
Locke and Key, Vol. 1, Welcome to Lovecraft: Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez.
First: Joe Hill is not Hank Hill’s cousin or anything like that.. Joe Hill is actually the pen name for Stephen King’s son. Living in the shadow of such an untouchable figure in the literary world is bad enough, but trying to follow in the man’s footsteps and write horror novels would be an even bigger nightmare. One that not even his father’s morbid imagination could ever concoct, so I get the name change. Okay, enough of the genealogy lesson.
Locke and Key centers on a family who is traumatized by the tragic death of their father/husband, and decide to move to Keyhouse, a mansion in New England with a dark secret. Keyhouse’s doors shift and shape in the darkest dimensions, reminiscent of Danielewski’s sinister House of Leaves. What follows is murder. Lots of murder. And blood. And more murder.
Although I am not a huge fan of Rodriguez’s artistic approach outside of his terrifyingly beautiful portrayal of all the carnage, Joe Hill’s calculated pacing and bone-curdling story-telling both warm his proud father’s heart and chill readers’ hearts at the same time. Awesome.
JAY-REY’S TOP FIVE
Much like CR, I also have some reservations about this list, more so as I am not a person you can describe as a lover of spooky and scary things. Ask anyone of my co-writers here, and they will tell you tale where I almost dropped dead of anxiety in a haunted corn field. But I digress.
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez
The first on my list is going to be Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Written and drawn by Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Invader Zim, it is a dark look at the life of a serial killer. When I found it, I was an angsty teen who listened to hardcore and emo. Johnny (or Nny for short) committed horrible, violent, unspeakable acts when killing people at random. He hated everything. He didn’t know why he was here and he was tortured. It starts off kinda pointless and random, but awesome artwork and an over the top story makes this a great Halloween read.
Squee (Directors Cut) by Jhonen Vasquez
Shut up! I am not cheating! I told you I don’t like scary things! Squee is the follow up comic by Vasquez. Published after Johnny and just before Invader Zim was picked up, this was a much more polished comic. Better artwork, better story; a mix of random, one off adventures, as well as an overall story arc, the book follows Squee, Nny’s young neighbor. He is a very scared kid to start off with, but put him in a home where his parents neglect him, his neighbor is a serial killer, his teddy bear absorbs his darkest thoughts and wants, he gets abducted by aliens, and one of his classmates is literally the spawn of Satan (Sr. Diablo) , Squee has a reason to be afraid.
Chew by John Layman & Rob Guillory
Chew is a great comic with a fun new plot device: psychic powers through eating. Our hero, Tony Chu, is an FDA agent who has a special power. When eating something, he gets a vivid vision of everything that food has been through. Eating broccoli lets him see the factory it was bundled in, the farmer who picked it, and the spreading of manure all over the ground. Its much more horrifying when eating beef, since he also gets to relieve the cows final moments before….Thwack! The story is about a parallel reality where the consumption and sale of chicken has been outlawed due to a disease caused by the flightless bird. Our hero busts black market restaurants, chicken smuggling operations, and other people with food related powers. Why is it here? Because Tony gets his psychic reading after he eats anything (except beats). ANYTHING (again, except beats…).
Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison
I have a lot of opinions on this one. The story is solid, the artwork is interesting, but the text is rage inducing. But first the good. Arkham Asylum is about a terrible night in the world’s most infamous asylum when the Joker has taken over, and has much of the staff hostage. The book takes a look at the mentality of Bruce Wayne, who is debatably as crazy as many of the inmates at Arkham. There is also a haunting sub plot about a former inmate named Martin “Mad Dog” Hawkings, who has committed a gruesome murder and is one of the first inmates of Arkham.
THE BAD is that you can’t read anything the Joker says. I pretty much had to read the entire thing using the commentary in the back of the book. It is widely considered the comic that pushed the industry to give comic book character’s their own fonts (think Thor and is ye’ old english font), but I gotta say they went a bit over board here.
30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
I read this after the flick came out, but it was a good read, and probably better than the movie. The artwork is stylized and the Vampires are terrifying. The story takes place in a small Alaskan town, where every year they hit 30 days of no sun light. A group of roaming vampires hear about this, and take advantage of a month-long buffet without sunlight to interfere. A small group of survivors, lead by the town’s sherif , have to survive while dealing with extreme cold, isolation, and an undead enemy. It spawned a bunch of sequels, if you enjoyed the first one.