Back around Halloween ’09, I whipped up a little list of “six deeply creepy alt-horror cartoonists,” a list of modern masters of the macabre that included The Blot‘s Tom Neely and Ectopiary‘s Hans Rickheit. Now both artists are dealing with something even scarier than their comics: the economy. And both are looking for financial help to keep their projects going.
First up is Hans Rickheit, whose latest graphic novel The Squirrel Machine was published by Fantagraphics, and whose webcomic Ectopiary has had its praises sung by my colleague Brigid Alverson (among many others). Rickheit announced the other day that the business where he worked has closed down, leaving him without a job or income and forcing him to suspend production of Ectopiary indefinitely. “If you’ve ever considered buying any artwork or books,” he writes, “this would really be a very helpful time to do so.” You can buy pages from his Xeric-winning erotic-horror graphic novel Chloe here, pages from his steampunk-by-way-of-David-Cronenberg book The Squirrel Machine here, many of his comics direct from Rickheit himself here, or simply donate what you will here.
Big news over at CBR, where Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo) has announced his newest project, Rachel Rising, about a woman who has recently died but isn’t finished with life yet. Kiel Phegley zoomed in and got some details:
“This one will be ongoing because I’m developing a character and a whole world that I want a lot of open possibilities with,” Moore told CBR News. “I’m going for another genre that I love a lot. What I’m doing is that I’m still doing what I do with my character work, but like I’ve added a touch of sci-fi or what have you [to past projects], this one leans towards horror. And it’s not like gory horror or splatter. It’s more like, ‘This is not a town where you want to be on the streets at night.’”
I like it: The sort of horror that makes you uneasy, not grossed out. There’s more at the link, including a brief rundown of the premise of the story.
The webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE celebrates its fifth birthday today — congrats, guys! — by launching a new “tongue-in-cheek” horror comics anthology called Everywhere. The strip, created and written by Chris Miskiewicz, will feature artwork by Dennis Calero, Rodney Ramos, Bobby Timony, Nathan Schreiber, Seth Kushner and many more. The first strip, “Horses Everywhere,” is up now and features artwork by Andrew Wendel.
“Five years ago, eight independent cartoonists allied and presented personal signature works, online for free, and ACT-I-VATE was born,” said Dean Haspiel, creator of Billy Dogma and co-founder of ACT-I-VATE, in a press release. “Five years later, ACT-I-VATE expanded its roster, created a PRIMER graphic novel, and helped confirm publishing options between print and web. A bold example of how a curated destination point for new stories and ideas can sustain, ACT-I-VATE continues to break ground as the industry transitions to the Digital Age.”
Let’s get started with the first of many exclusive previews we’ll have for you today. Courtesy of our friends at Oni Press, we’re pleased to bring you a 15-page preview of the second volume of Possessions by Ray Fawkes. You might know Fawkes from such works as Spookshow, The Apocalipstix, Mnemovore and, of course, the first volume of Possessions.
The second Possessions features the return of Gurgazon the Unclean, a pit demon who looks like a five-year-old girl and is trapped in the Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities. In this second volume, subtitled “The Ghost Table,” Ms. Llewellyn-Vane hosts a rival spirit collector and her collection of ghosts for dinner, and Gurgazon’s the main attraction.
You can find the preview and more information on the book after the jump; please note that the preview is an uncorrected proof. It’s scheduled to come out in March.
BOOM! Studios announced this morning that they’ve picked up the license to make comics based on horror writer Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. The new ongoing series will be co-written by Barker and Christopher Monfette and drawn by Leonardo Manco of Hellblazer fame.
In addition, they also plan to release Hellraiser: Masterworks Vol. 1, which will reprint stories from the Hellraiser anthology published under Marvel’s Epic banner. The first volume will include stories by Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Mike Mignola and Alex Ross, among others.
The complete press release can be fund after the jump.
Now here’s a novel idea for a horror comic. In Closed Caption Comics collective member Conor Stechschulte’s webcomic Two Broken Branches, a guy and a girl strolling through the dark woods one night have a choice to make: Stay on the road and plow on to their destination even though it might take them all night, or see if they can find some warmth and companionship at a nearby campfire even though it’ll take them off course. Stechschulte’s solution? Show the stories that emerge from both possible decisions, right next to each other — sticking to the road on the left-hand side, investigating the fire on the right-hand side. Suffice it to say that the tales diverge wildly and neither ends pleasantly, although you’ll have to read them to find out for whom. And both are drawn in Stechschulte’s sinister, shadowy, scratchy style. Check it out.
(via Noel Freibert)
This quietly sinister webcomic has been tearing up the comics Internet over the past few Halloween-dominated days, and for good reason. Presenting “His Face All Red” by Emily Carroll — a beautifully colored little nightmare with an ending as black as the background. When I finished it, I actually muttered “whooo” out loud, I was so impressed. Enjoy, if that’s the word for it.
(Via Tom Spurgeon)
To wrap up our Halloween treats today, our own Sean T. Collins and artist Isaac Moylan share a comic called “I Remember When the Monsters Started Coming for the Cars.” Check out the complete story after the jump.
Happy Halloween! We round out our series of posts on what comics from the past or present left various creators shivering under the blanket until the sun came up. To see the previous posts, go here and here.
Fred Van Lente
I had the oversized MARVEL TREASURY EDITION of MARVEL TEAM-UP when I was a kid. The panel in the Spider-Man & Ghost Rider story in which the Orb removes his helmet and shows how hideously scarred he is scared me so bad I actually cut out a square of black construction paper big enough to tape over the panel to cover it so I could read the rest of the comic without looking at it. I couldn’t have been much older than seven.
Fred Van Lente is the co-writer of Marvel’s current event series Chaos War. He’s also written Action Philosophers!, Iron Man: Legacy and Shadowland: Power Man, among other titles. If you’re looking for something in the spirit of the season, check out his Marvel Zombies work.
It’s Halloween, which means Robot 666 Week will soon draw to a close. But before we put the skeletons back in the closet and the bats back in the belfry, we’re pleased to bring you the debut of Cullen Bunn‘s latest short story, ‘The Best Costumes Are Homemade,’ starring, once again, Mrs. Friedly.
Bunn’s previous Mrs. Friedly tales:
The Best Costumes Are Homemade
By Cullen Bunn
Mrs. Friedly had been feeling quite festive, but the children were raising such a fuss that she was growing cross. She took a deep breath, though, and reminded herself that it was, after all, her favorite holiday. She refused to let it be spoiled. She picked a piece of candy from the bowl on the kitchen table and plopped it into her mouth. She instantly felt better.
But the children still whined and mewled.
“Now, now, my sweet ones,” Mrs. Friedly said, “I’m afraid this really is a necessity. I know you love the costumes we’ve made, but it is simply too cold out, and you must wear your jackets.”
The children moaned and sighed, whimpered and cried. Mrs. Friedly clucked her tongue as she gathered their jackets.
Like I said yesterday, we reached out to several comic creators this year to see what comics from the past or present left them with nightmares. Check some more responses out below, and check back tomorrow for another round.
When I was a child the comic books I bought came in four varieties; Disney comics, Turok: Son of Stone, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth and what passed for horror comics in the early 1970s. These consisted mostly of the Marvel giant monster titles like Where Monsters Dwell, but also extended to anything that was the least bit spooky looking such as a copy of Marvel Team-Up that featured Brother Voodoo alongside Spider-Man, or pretty much any copy of Batman, or Mighty Samson.
I also read other horror titles such as Tomb of Dracula and lots of the anthology comics. No single story really leaps out to me as scaring me in particular, but some of the covers were things I had a hard enough time looking at during the day, let alone at bedtime. The covers were far stronger to me than anything inside the comic books. I think buying some of these comics was almost like a dare, to prove to myself that I could handle it, that I wasn’t too scared to take this image home with me. having it in my bedroom was like inviting the monster out from the closet, or under the bed where you could see it, and it could see you as well.
Last year for Robot 666 Week we had a lot of fun putting together our list of six comics that scared the $#!@% out of us. So this year, we thought we’d broaden our scope and ask a few comic creators what comics scared them. Here’s the first batch; check back tomorrow and on Halloween for more!
That’s an easy one.
In 1973, I read a short story in the black and white Monsters Unleashed magazine by Thomas Disch, adapted and illustrated by Ralph Reese called “The Roaches,” about a bug-infested apartment and the woman in it…all I remember was it was illustrated in such a creepy style and all those bugs…
At the time I was living in a basement of a house that had some of the little critters from time to time, and the story freaked me out to the point I couldn’t sleep, knowing the bugs were out there ready for me to fall asleep and crawl into my ears, mouth and nose. Now that I’m talking about it, it’s creeping me out all over again.
Jimmy Palmiotti is the co-writer, with Justin Gray, of a ton of comics — Jonah Hex, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Time Bomb and many more. If you’re looking for a comic to read this Halloween, The Last Resort is a fun, over-the-top zombie comic.
Continuing our run of Halloween short stories by Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun), we’re pleased to present “Friedly’s Treats.” You can see the previous two stories here and here, and be sure to come back on Halloween for a brand-new story!
By Cullen Bunn
Joshua hated Halloween. He once loved costumes and jack o’lanterns and candy. But now he dreaded the holiday.
Outside, trick-or-treaters giggled and climbed Mrs. Friedly’s porch steps. The shuddering knock sent shivers down Joshua’s spine. He squeezed his eyes shut.
The door creaked open. Cool air swept the foyer.
Guttural voices cried, “Trick or treat!”
“Aren’t you fearsome!” Mrs. Friedly beamed at the anxious little monsters. “I’ve something extra special for you.”
Horror comics fans have plenty of material to choose from when looking for a good, scary read this Halloween. Even if we just confine ourselves to manga (since, as we all know, the Japanese cartoonists excel at scaring the pants off their readers), there are plenty of options, from grand guginol pieces like MDP-Psycho or Ultra Gash Inferno, to more traditional, semi-bloody, spooky fare like Presents or Mail. Still, there are plenty of great, terrifying, mind-blowing manga that would delight the hardcore American horrorist if only some enterprising publisher would make an attempt at publishing them. Here are just six titles that I’d like to see translated and released in book form some time in the near future:
(Note: A potentially NSFW image lurks beneath the jump)
Lovecraft is a hard act to follow, and an even harder one to adapt. “Oh you mean HP Lovecraft, the guy who came up with Cthulhu and all those cute little plush toys.” Yeah, the guy who launched a thousand little cottage industries pumping out VOTE FOR CTHULHU: THE STARS ARE RIGHT bumper stickers and Mythos Hunting Guides and all that stuff. Yeah, him. I do wonder if he’d be tickled or appalled at his legacy and all the eldritch dust-catchers and t-shirts and radio plays.
Well, he’d probably like the radio plays. He’d probably have even approved of the silent film adaptation of THE CALL OF CTHULHU, arguably his single most famous piece of fiction, certainly the one that’s lodged most deeply in the collective consciousness, for good or for ill. The film adaptation ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478988/ for the IMDB page, and it’s streaming on Netflix) gets a solid recommendation from me, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m pretty hard to please as this stuff goes. Not because I think Lovecraft’s every word is sacred and perfect. I don’t. My relationship with HPL’s work is problematic, mostly in terms of the execution. I like characters. I like it when characters drive the plot. HPL couldn’t be bothered with that by and large, except when it was an incessant curiosity on the part of the players that made the eldritch secrets of the plot unfurl to their almost unerringly messy conclusions.
So I find HPL’s conceptual work rightly celebrated even if I find his prose nigh-unimpenetrable at times. Which is why I’m often attracted to adaptations of his work, where creators have a desire to stick to the template that HPL laid out, and often there’s some sense of respect for the source material, but it’s filtered through a different sense of aesthetics. HPL-inspired stuff that stars HPL himself? Not so much. Though there was that beautifully-illustrated LOVECRAFT OGN with art by Enrique Breccia that was so wonderful that I simply didn’t care about the story. Though I suppose there’s an interesting vein to mine when talking about Lovecraft as fictional construct rather than historical figure, but that’s for someone else to do.