Tag Archives: horror

Happenings…

Sorry for the dead silence. I’ve been working on a few different projects.

Recently I’ve written for the fantastic horror website bloody-disgusting.com.  If that sounds like your jam, feel free to check out my shit here. Horror fiction is my other passion and it’s been a blast working with those guys. I have a few in the can with them that should be published soon.

Also, I have just been hired as a list-writer for CBR.com. My first list just dropped today. I feel like this is doubly important, what with it being about comic books.

As far as comic stuff. Here are some comic book related updates:

  • So I’ve been on a HUGE Batman kick. I’ve been going through Grant Morrison’s run and even though it’s completely fucking bonkers, it might be my favorite next to Scott Snyder’s (sorry, you can’t touch that dude’s batman). Right now, I’m chewing through Kevin Smith’s mini-series. More on that later.
  • Dark Knight Metal is fucking bananas. I’ve read both preludes and the first two issues, but none of the one shots. I’m not 100% sold on it so far, but Snyder is great, so I’ll stick with it.
  • So the mysterious Mr. Oz is actually…drum roll…REDACTED, which is kinda dumb. Look, I haven’t read the issue in which it was revealed, but I really wanted it to be Ozymandias. With The Watchmen Universe being meshed with the main DC continuity, it felt like a perfect entry point. But what the fuck do I know?
  • I liked Logan. I didn’t love it like the rest of the world, but it was the best Wolverine solo movie (I know, not a very high bar), but I had some issues with it.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on the other hand was super fun and probably better than the first one.
  • Wonder Woman ruled, but I do not have high hopes for Justice League. I want it to be good so bad, but I just don’t know.
  • Warner Bros. wants to make a Flashpoint live action film. Sure. Fuck it. Why not?
  • I read through all of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run while I was in the hospital after my son was born. It is amazing and it help me keep sane.
  • On a related note: the Marvel Unlimited app is awesome.
  • So I’m still working on a five page comic project. It’s been very slow coming. I’ve taken it upon myself to do the coloring and the lettering, both of which are a pain in the ass if you have no idea what you’re doing. I have one page left for colors and then it’s on to letters. The comic was written by me and drawn by the very talented Donal DeLay.

 

That’s about it for now. I do have some Batman pieces coming up that I’m working on. Hopefully this will get updated more. I do appreciate anyone who reads it and enjoys my work.

P.S. Here’s a random panel that makes me smile.

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(C) Marvel Comics or whatever…

 

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Who’s Afraid of Alan Moore?

Me. I mean the guy does scare me a little.

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Many years ago, I picked up Moore’s magnum opus about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, with the intentions to crush it like a brittle robin’s egg with my fierce comic-consuming eyes, but unlike my experience with some of his other work, this book bit back. Hard.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t find any of Moore’s other work challenging (shit, you need a working knowledge of turn of the century Victorian pop culture to get half the references in most of it), but they were always rather easy to navigate. But From Hell fucked my world up. It was dense, horrifying, and exhausting to read, and I don’t mean that as an insult.

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*First date.*

I chewed my way through about 150 pages of the trade until I set it down for something else (I have a bad habit of that). I had all the best intentions to finish it up, but never did.

The book was eventually lent out to a co-worker who was talking about the shitty film adaptation with Johnny Depp when I said, “hey, did you know that movie was based on a comic?” I then launched into my whole “more people should read comics and stop wasting their time with shitty TV shows and bad movies.” Johnny-Depp-in-Frederick-Abberline-From-Hell-Movie-Wallpapers

*Fuck you, you beautiful idiot.*

In retrospect, pontificating about the glory of comic books to a non-reader should have never been punctuated with handing them a copy of From Hell. It was too much comic for them. Hell, it was too much for me.

Now, about six years later, I have purchased a new copy of From Hell and I am two issues (or chapters if you fancy) away from finishing it, and let me tell you: it might be the best thing Alan Moore has ever written.

I was going to wait until I was done with the book before I wrote anything about it, but unless this comic drops the ball in it’s final act, which I know it DOES NOT, this tome is one of the greats, not just in comics, but in historical fiction.

But it’s not just Moore’s writing the elevates this comic to the stratosphere: Eddie Campbell’s art is stellar, evoking the era via Victorian style newspaper cartoons. It’s amazing and renders the Whitechaple Murders in graphic detail.

I love Alan Moore, and I want so badly for all his work to be this good. This book is a reminder as to why I was so disappointed in Providence Act 1.

 

 

 

 

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Providence Act 1: REVIEW

Note: This review covers issues 1 – 4 of Providence.

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DISCLAIMER: I am dumb and often times, Alan Moore makes me feel dumber. Now on to the review.

Like many of my fellow comic nerds, I absolutely love the work of Alan Moore. Now, I’ll be first to say that not everything he puts out is golden. But this should not detract from how brilliant the man is, nor should it lessen his importance to the graphic medium.

I’m of the opinion that we should judge an artist based on their strongest works (hence why Francis Ford Coppola is still riding that Godfather/Conversation/Apocalypse Now wave; we all saw Jack; fuck that movie). But Moore doesn’t rest on his 1980s DC laurels. If anything, Moore has grown as a writer since the days of Watchmen and Swamp Thing.

Being that he’s bit of an elusive writer, Moore belongs to an echelon of comic creators that actually make me excited when I hear announcements for new work. Guys like Brain Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, and Scott Snyder always have several stokes in the fire at any given time, which makes them far more accessible, but that’s not to detract from their talents.

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*Best resume ever!*

That’s why when I first heard Avatar Press was going to publish another Lovecraftian horror comic scripted by Moore and drawn by my favorite horror/shock artist, Jacen Burrows, I had to physically wrestle my erection into submission.

I thoroughly enjoyed (but didn’t love) their earlier collaboration, Neonomicon, and thought it had a lot of potential to be great, but was bogged down with Moore’s own fetishism of monster sex/rape.

I pre-ordered Providence Act 1 in Hardback the day its release was announced, and I immediately cracked its spine the day it was delivered, and about halfway through the first issue, I set the book down and walked away, wondering if I would be able to produce the energy to finish it…

This was not good. I had never had that sort of experience with Alan Moore’s work.

You see, usually with Moore’s stuff, I can’t wait to see what’s next (even in the case of Promethea where things were super entertaining at first, but ended super fucking weird). But Providence initially bored me to tears. I mean, all the elements were there: a quasi-detective story about a journalist named Robert Black researching occult stories throughout New England for a “Great American Novel” he intends to write, all the while a looming horror is just behind every door. This is a really cool setup for a story, but the book just didn’t click with me early on.

I did pick Providence Act 1 back up and powered through it, trying my damnedest to be engaged, and by the end of it, I came to two realizations:

  1. I like Lovecraftain stories way more than actual Lovecraft stories. Now, this is a Moore book, but the man is using such thick Lovecraft mythos to convey it, it reads like H.P.’s greatest hits, more so than Neonomicon. I think you can create a Lovecraftian story without relying so heavily on the source material (i.e. Revival by Stephen King, John Dies at the End by David Wong, True Detective Season 1 etc.) and make is stand on its own.
  2. Alan Moore is simply not a “grab you by the collar” sort of writer any more. I doubt very much we’ll see many “a comedian was murdered in New York” openings in future work, which I have mixed feelings about.

Look, Providence is not bad, okay. Not every aspect was a chore and some of those aspects are quite remarkable: The dialogue in this book is some of Moore’s strongest in years; every conversation was well-conceived and felt real; Jacen Burrows’ art is fantastic and disturbing (the street vendor splash page gave me chills); and some of the diary entries were really entertaining and insightful.

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**Good Stuff…**

I’m not giving up on Providence. Eight issues have been released, which means Act 2 should be out soon (this is a 12 issue mini-series, by the way). This book does not tarnish Moore’s image in my eyes. There was enough here to pique my interest for future installments. I just hope they have a little less dreary pacing issues and a little more of this:

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**”Hi, I’m not in this comic.”

Is this shallow criticism? You bet your ass it is. But what can I say? I love monsters. Give me more of them, Mr. Moore.

Final Grade: C-

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The Magician: The Long Day REVIEW

**Note: I was fortunate enough to obtain an advanced review copy of The Magician: The Long Day, which is about half of the finished graphic novel. For more information on the project, visit The Magician’s Kickstarter here.

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The Magician: The Long Day could easily be summed up as a crime tale about nasty dirt bags doing nasty dirt bag things to other nasty dirt bags, but that would be doing the book a great injustice. But I will say that the nasty business in this book is nasty as all hell. There’s an asshole-puckering torture scene early on that is particularly awful.

Luckily, writer, David Brown and artist, D.N.S. don’t rely too heavily on the nasty bits to propel their story forward. In fact, what you’re not shown is just as powerful. Before the torture scene in those first few pages, there’s a gut wrenching story about a puppy and a buzz saw that actually lessens the blow of the what follows (or enhances it; it’s kinda hard to tell). What the creative team has done here is crafted a rather well-paced, measured slice of comic noir doused with a bucket of 1970s exploitation cinema (see: aforementioned asshole-puckering torture scene).

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**Spoiler Alerrrgh!!! Barf!**

The plot of The Magician is ostensibly a McGuffin story regarding a blue duffle bag that belongs to a vicious gangster and the hatchet-wielding hitman named Eugene (who is seriously fucking disturbed) dispatched to retrieve it. Toss in some low-level thugs, junkies, and other unsavory characters, you get a general idea as to what you’re getting into.

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**”Hi, I’m Eugene and I’ll be serving you gangland justice tonight…don’t mind all the creepy shit about me.”**

While some of the dialogue is a bit jarring (there’s a scene between two goons about to rob a convenience store that just didn’t work for me; but of course not everyone is Brian Azzarello), Brown’s writing is really tight and his sense of gallows humor works well for the story. D.N.S.’ stellar art work stylistically vacillates between early Sin City books and classic EC horror comics like Tales From the Crypt that, coupled with Brown’s humor and love of gore, revisit a foregone era in comics.

If you were to flip through this book without reading it, you’d think it be a horror comic and not a crime book. In a way, it’s sort of both, which is not a bad thing.

The Magician: The Long Day is a refreshing read, one that reminds me of eighth grade when I used to read old copies of Creepy and Erie that an uncle passed down to me. I’m excited to see what comes next in the story and what these guys decide to tackle as their next project.

This is highly recommended.

Final Grade: B

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Wytches Volume 1 REVIEW

Pledged is pledged…

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Before I picked up this trade, I’d had very little experience with Scott Snyder’s work. In fact, the reason I gravitated to this book was Jock’s cover art (hypocritical, I know; art is always second place for me when it comes to scooping up comics). I flipped through the first few pages, read the synopsis and few quick Amazon reviews on my phone, and purchased it at my local brick and mortar. The first trade is $9.99 MSRP, and let me tell you, (besides subscribing to Heavy Metal magazine) page-for-page, this book might have been the best bang for the buck I’ve ever spent on comics, for two reasons.

Reason 1: The story is quite good. Hell, I’d even call it great.

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Wytches be scary, yo.

The story starts out simple enough: a troubled teenage girl is trying to adjust to a tough living situation and ever growing family strife while a bunch of supernatural crazy shit turns her world completely upside down. The new witch folklore this book presents is refreshing and turns what is usually fodder for young adult fiction or crappy CW shows into truly terrifying creatures. The only issue I had with Wytches was how quickly the resolution in the final issue (#6) came about and the giant information dump near the end to make for a (mostly) nice, clean ending. I wonder if Snyder and Jock were worried the book wouldn’t get picked back up (luckily, all signs point to issue 7 coming out sometime this year). But these nitpicks can be overlooked.

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“GAH! Nitpick! I said, nitpick! Not fucking nosepick!”

Reason 2: This book opened my eyes to how damn good Scott Snyder is as a writer. I mean, really good. Shortly after reading Wytches, I plowed through his run on Batman and The Wake, both of which are amazingly good. This guy is the real deal. Not since I first read Jason Aaron’s Scalped have I been so head over heels for a comic scribe. I’d read this guy’s grocery list (I bet there’s something creepy on it).

If you’re horror fan, read Wytches immediately. It rocks.

Final Grade: A-

**images from imagecomics.com and comicbookresources.com**

 

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East of West REVIEW

NOTE: This review covers the first four trade paper backs of East of West, which collect issues 1 – 19 and The World source book.

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*Source: imagecomics.com*

Read this book. Now. Stop reading this, go get the trades, and consume them with you eye teeth. They are fantastic.

East of West is one of those rare books that takes genre tropes, tosses them in a blender, and produces something on the page that is larger and far more intriguing than its separate parts. I mean, it would be easy to call this book a science fiction story and move along, but you would be doing the work Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta have produced a great disservice.

This book has everything: drama, horror, romance, action, adventure, Native American mysticism, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, family blood feuds, gunslingers, political intrigue, and a robot balloon. When I say East of West has everything, I mean it has EVERY-FUCKING-THING.

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*source: East of West #19 (I think) from Image Comics*

The last time I recall being shotgunned by ten different genres and loving every moment of it would be when I read the first three Dark Tower books by Stephen King.

While being shotgunned by genres may seem overwhelming, the abundance of stuff jammed into each issue does nothing to hinder the flow of the story or character development.

“So, Mike, what is East of West all about?” you might ask.

To which I would like to reply, “Shut your face and just read it.” But what I would probably tell  you is that the comic follows one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death (yes, that Death) as he travels across a version of the United States, where the line between magic and technology is blurred, in search of his lost child, a child who just might be the harbinger of End Times, like, for real.

I guess that would be the elevator pitch. And if that didn’t grab you, I’d probably tell you about the robot balloon again.

I don’t want to be cryptic about this comic. I really don’t, but every time I write a word in this review, I feel like I’ve said too much.

This is one of those stories that it methodical in its telling. And while sometimes what’s going on can seem arcane, things always come around full circle.

This is a challenging book, but not challenging in the way one would consider Alan Moore’s A Disease of Language challenging. This book likes to keep you in the dark right up to the point where you want to drop the comic like a vomiting baby that’s not yours and walk away. But the precipice of making you do so is never crossed. Just when you think you’re going to give up, East of West grabs your stupid, stupid face and makes you read its crazy words and look at its batshit, bonkers pictures and then it shakes you silly and makes you scream, “thank you, sir, may I have another?” and then it give you this:

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*Source: East of West #3*

On a Pale Robot Horse Thing or Something… 

This book does not give a shit if you like it or not. And its apathy isn’t presented in a pretentious Radiohead sort of way; it’s in a switchbladeand broken beer bottle, punk rock sort of way. This book has a permanent sneer on its face and it wants to show you something different. It wants you to feel the plight of its characters in every panel and reconsider what you think makes traditional story telling work. And love it or hate it, there’s something to be said for that.

At the time of this writing, the first four trades paper backs are out now and the fifth will be released soon. There is also a deluxe hardcover that collects the first 15 issues called The Apocalypse: Year One. Pick them up or get the singles if you’re a glutton for punishment.

Quick reminder: Robot Balloon.

Final Grade: A

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