With Halloween just days away, friends, it’s time for my annual roundup of Halloween comics in Everything But Imaginary. You can check out all the 2010 happenings right here:
But in this week’s Classic EBI, let’s go back to 2006, when I took a look at Halloween offerings for that year, shall we? It’s October 25, 2006, and we’re looking at…
Everything But Imaginary #187: Creepy Crawly Comics
It’s time, friends, for another Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters Halloween discussion. I love Halloween, and I’ve spent the entire month of October trying to put together as much Halloween content as possible, from special columns to movie and book reviews. Why, last weekend I even lost my mind to the degree that I spent an entire 48-hour block watching and reviewing all eleven Friday the 13th movies (that’s 48 hours minus time for sleeping, eating and – on rare occasions – emptying the ol’ “Crystal Lake”), six of which I had never seen before.
Halloween and Christmas are, to me, the two holidays richest in story potential. (Let’s face it, Here Comes Peter Cottontail was not among Rankin-Bass’s greatest achievements, and I don’t even want to get into It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown.) But there are billions of Christmas movies, TV specials, songs and comics. Halloween is a bit different. There are still lots of stories told about the holiday, but even a story with no direct connection to October 31, if sufficiently creepy, can be enough to get you into the proper mood. That’s why so many horror movies come out in October, why you see monster movies on television, and why you get comics with creepy connotations.
That in mind, let’s take a little time to look at some of the haunted happenings currently on the comic book stands. Back in the 90s, Vertigo was the undisputed monarch of horror comics, with projects like Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer. Well, John Constantine is still around and kicking, but Vertigo as a whole has turned more towards fantasy, science fiction and esoteric drama. Exterminators still brings us some horror content, as does the relaunched version of Deadman, but there’s little else there at the moment.
DC proper, unfortunately, doesn’t have too much in the way of horror these days either, but Wildstorm is taking up the torch. After spending a few years with Avatar Press, Wildstorm has taken over the license for three of New Line Cinema’s library of horror properties, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and each of these properties has been graced with a new ongoing series. Wildstorm somewhat squandered the potential in the project, though, by not launching all three titles in time for Halloween. So far, only A Nightmare on Elm Street #1 has hit the shelves. That said, I was quite impressed with the first issue. Chuck Dixon and Kevin Ward show a marked improvement from the Avatar series, which had good artwork but fairly generic stories and paper-thin characters. Dixon pushed the star, Freddy Krueger, into the background for much of the first issue, focusing on a new girl in Springwood, unaware of his legend, but nonetheless next in line to become a victim. Dixon really does a good job of making Freddy genuinely frightening – too often these days he’s played for macabre laughs, but this has the elements of a good psychological horror that makes the character work the best.
Over at Marvel, they’re pumping the new Hellstorm miniseries into their refurbished MAX line. I’ll be honest, though, I avoided the first issue (which came out today) because it’s set in New Orleans, and comic books set in Louisiana almost universally get me mad because of how painfully bad the stereotypes are. They’ve also recently brought back Blade and Ghost Rider, the former to tie in with a TV series that’s already been cancelled and the latter to tie into a movie that’s not coming out until next year. I’m not a huge fan of either property, but I do appreciate that they’re there if anyone wants them. Marvel Zombies, on the other hand, was a lot of fun. The miniseries about a universe where a zombie plague claimed virtually every hero and villain on Earth was a hit (in no small part, I suspect, due to the fantastic covers by Arthur Suydam, who parodied about a dozen different classic Marvel covers in zombie form). A sequel is already in the works, from what I hear, so you know I’ll be there.
Marvel’s deal with the Dabel Brothers has also brought them a pretty good little horror maxiseries in Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter – Guilty Pleasures. Based on the popular series of novels by Lauren K. Hamilton, this is set in a world where vampires and other supernatural creatures are accepted as everyday occurrences. Anita Blake, our heroine, is a licensed vampire executioner – she is sent to take out vampires who abuse their power. I’ve never read one of Hamilton’s novels, but I got the first issue of the comic book and I really enjoyed it – it’s a nice dash of horror mixed with some hardboiled drama. Bite Club fans may find something to enjoy here.
Over at Image, they’ve gone a long way towards diversifying their line. In the horror genre, their current darling would have to be Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, about the survivors of a zombie plague that has (apparently) swept the Earth. There’s quite a bit of zombie action in the book, but it focuses more on the humans, the people who survived the plague. Most classic zombie movies are about the humans that battle the zombies, but they’ve got to reach some sort of resolution at the two-hour mark. Kirkman’s story has no such limitation – it’s an ongoing about life in a world of the dead, and it’s excellent. Heck, it was good enough for Marvel to tap him to write Marvel Zombies, right?
Dark Horse is coming back this week for a second round of Perhapanauts, a fun little monster comic about a group of… well… monsters trained as special agents to fight various supernatural threats. It’s half horror, half superhero, which is what you expect when your cast includes a Sasquatch, a ghost and a Chupacabra. The book, by Todd DeZago and Craig Rousseau, is a lot of fun, the sort of thing Hellboy fans will eat up. The first trade paperback is now available and the first issue of the second miniseries, Second Chances, hit the stands today.
So there are tons of good comics out there to help you get your scare on, and the only way it could be better is if Gemstone had timed the release of the first Tales From the Crypt Archives for October instead of December. I’m equally certain that you guys will happily inform me of any great horror comics I may have missed. I welcome your suggestions – it’s always great to hear about more good comics. In the meantime, Happy Halloween!
Favorite of the Week: October 18, 2006
Can you say “No Brainer?” Month in and month out, for over four years now, Fables has sat firmly atop my “must read” pile, and the first ever Fables original graphic novel, 1,001 Nights of Snowfall, is no different. Written by regular series writer and creator Bill Willingham, with artwork by a plethora of extremely talented artists, this book tells a tale of Snow White, trapped in the kingdom of the Arabian Fables, forced to tell story after story about herself and her peers to stay alive. In the process, we learn a lot about our heroes (and villains). Ever wanted to know Frau Totenkinder’s story? It’s here. What did Bigby Wolf do before the General Amnesty that would horrify people if they knew? It’s here. How did the seemingly ineffectual King Cole get elected mayor? What happened to Flycatcher’s family? Why doesn’t Snow White let anyone ask her about the dwarves? All of your answers lie within. Not only is the story top-notch, but the artwork is beautiful. Every artist in the book does an absolutely magnificent job. This is more than just my favorite book of the week, it’s one of the best books of the year.
Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.