Vampires have come a long way since John Polidori’s The Vampyre in 1819. Popular culture has since seen creepy vampires, sexy vampires, and even high school teen angst-y vampires (in both buff and sparkly categories). In Redneck #1, Donny Cates takes the standard set of vampire mythos and applies them to a redneck family in East Texas.
The Bowmans run the local BBQ in a small East Texas town called Sulphur Springs. Secretly a clutch of vampires, the family survives on cow’s blood and mostly keeps to themselves. Father Landry and his brood are the only other family in Sulphur Springs that suspects the Bowmans’ true nature.
Bad Blood Tends to Beget Bad Blood
The Landrys and Bowmans have literally been at each other’s throats for generations. It’s been pretty quiet for a spell, but the tension is building. A couple of drunk kids out on the town is about all it would take to start an all out war.
“It’s a story about a family’s quest to turn themselves into more than the monsters they’ve always been. To find a little peace in a world that hates them,” says Cates of his new series in an exclusive interview with TFAW. “It ain’t gonna be easy. And it’s sure as hell gonna be bloody. But it might just be the best time you’ve ever had reading a book about vampires!”
Image Comics is seeing the payoff after going to the well again with Cates. He smashed it with God Country and is riding that success into another promising series. Fans of God Country,Harrow County, vampire lore, and horror comics will definitely want to get in on this series.
We caught up with Cullen and picked his brain about Regression, the upcoming reboot of The Damned, and past life regression.
TFAW: Do you remember the first comic book you ever read? How did it end up in your hands?
Cullen Bunn: I remember “reading” an early issue of X-Men when I was very young, just flipping through it, looking at the Kirby art, not really understanding the real awesomeness of what I was seeing. The first comic I remember sort of reading was Avengers 154, where Attuma stages an attack on the Avengers and beats the Hell out of them. The issue scared me because I thought the Avengers had died. Those books, like so many of my comics when I was a kid, were bought at yard sales. Back in those days, you could find stacks of comics on the cheap at 2 out of 5 yard sales it seemed.
TFAW: What series got you hooked on comics?
Bunn: The comic that made me love comics was purchased off a grocery store spinner rack. It was Micronauts 7. That book hooked me with the story, the characters, the art, and the world-building.
TFAW: What comic writers and artists inspire you?
Bunn: Oh, wow! That’s a pretty big list. Morrison and Moore (and their weird wizard rivalry). Ellis, Wrightson, Starlin, Mantlo, Claremont, and so many more.
I wish I had taken to time to enjoy the ride instead of being so stressed out about breaking in.
TFAW: How did you get your big break in comics? At what point did it hit you that you had broken in?
Bunn: I was working at a comic book store years and years ago when I met aspiring artist and fellow comic shop employee Brian Hurtt. We started talking about working on a comic book together, but it took a long, long time for that to happen. A little over ten years ago, Brian and I pitched the idea for our horror/noir series The Damned to Oni Press and they snapped it up. The Damned, by the way, is returning. The trade paperback of the original series just hit the shelves and the first issue of the new ongoing series hits the shelves soon!
Anyhow, that was my big break, I guess, because it helped me wedge my toe in the door. It still took several more years for me to get more work. I put out another book with Brian and Oni titled The Sixth Gun, and that started getting attention from other publishers.It really hit me that I had broken in on the day I was able to quit my day job and become a full-time writer. I had broken in before then, I just never really appreciated and accepted it until that moment. I wish I had taken to time to enjoy the ride instead of being so stressed out about breaking in.
TFAW: What is Regression about?
Bunn: In Regression, we meet Adrian, an average guy who is experiencing vivid, horrible waking nightmares. These visions are so intense that they are ruining his life. His friend Molly convinces him to try past life regression hypnotherapy to help him understand the source of these visions. During the session, Adrian catches a glimpse of something ghastly, but he can’t make heads or tails of it. And that’s when the trouble starts.
The past life Adrian encounters follows him back, nesting in his mind and taking control every now and then, forcing him to do horrible things. Adrian’s life starts spinning out of control, this other presence destroying everything around him. And to make matters worse, he is now at the center of some sort of strange supernatural conspiracy. A shady group of characters are watching him, because they feel that the intruding past life has some apocalyptic secrets to share.
Watching some of the things my dad did with hypnosis has made me a believer.
TFAW: The first historical mention of past life regression was in second century BC. It’s not a new subject, but there are surprisingly few mentions of past life regression in modern horror. What inspired you to write about this subject?
Bunn: Past life regression as a story element has been something I’ve been thinking about for years. My father was a hypnotist, and I watched him perform a number of past life regressions. I thought about those regressions quite a bit over the years. Somewhere along the way, the troubling thought dawned on me: what if one of those past lives were evil or possessed by evil. And what if the regression gave them a finger hold in someone’s life? What if they could hitch a ride to the present?
TFAW: What was the weirdest thing you ever saw during one of your father’s PLR sessions?
Bunn: I know there are a lot of skeptics out there when it comes to hypnosis and past life regression. I get it, because I think there is a lot of phony stuff out there in the world. However, watching some of the things my dad did with hypnosis has made me a believer.
I saw so, so many strange things. With the past life regressions in particular, I witnessed people speaking in previously unknown languages or with perfect accents from faraway places. I saw people describing intricate details of day-to-day life in time periods long, long gone.
Once, while he was doing a show at a park, he had a subject who just refused to wake up. All the other subjects awoke when my dad counted to three, but this one guy remained under hypnosis. He would respond to my father. He would do things my father asked him to do. But he just refused to wake up. It took two or three hours to get him to come out of the hypnotic state.
The most chilling thing, though, the thing that really planted the earliest seeds of Regression was another guy he hypnotized. He was a responsive subject. But when my dad regressed him to a past life, he just sat there in this eerie silence. He simply would not respond in any way to my dad’s voice. My dad told the other people who were watching that this subject must have been a “new soul” but I wondered if maybe there was something unspeakable in his past life.
I had a group of friends in high school who really wanted to convince my dad to hypnotize all of us…
TFAW: Did you ever let your father hypnotize you?
Bunn: No, no, no. Never!
TFAW: Why not? What were your objections or fears?
Bunn: I’m too much of a control freak. I had a group of friends in high school who really wanted to convince my dad to hypnotize all of us and then let someone run us through a Dungeons and Dragons adventure that we would see and experience as real. Terrible idea!
I just remembered that as I was answering this question. Thank goodness we didn’t try that. It sounds like the basis of an 80’s cautionary TV movie.
TFAW: How did you end up partnering with Danny Luckert on Regression?
Bunn: We’ve been working on this book since 2013. Around that time, I had reached out to other comic book writers, asking if they knew of any artists who might be interested in a collaboration. Writer David Precht pointed me in Danny’s direction. I loved his artwork and reached out to him. We discussed a few ideas, but Regression was the one he liked most. He whipped up some character designs and art, and I loved his take on this story. The rest is history!
I still go to the comic shop every week…
TFAW: What titles are on your pull list?
Bunn: I have a standing order for at least the first few issues of all the new Image titles that come out. I usually end up buying them in trades and reading the whole series that way, but I like trying the first few issues in floppies. Southern Bastards is on my pull list still. I want the floppies for that. Doctor Strange, the X-Men titles, The Mighty Thor, Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Spongebob (for my kid, I swear!) and a bunch of others I forget to mention. My favorite thing to do on Wednesdays (because I still go to the comic shop every week) is to ask the employees “What came out this week that’s awesome?” and they usually start piling books up for me.
TFAW: What’s next?
Bunn: As I mentioned, The Damned is coming out as an ongoing from Oni. I’m also working on a just-announced horror series from Boom! titled The Unsound. I have several other creator-owned books in the works, too, but they haven’t been announced yet. I’m also writing X-Men Blue and Monsters Unleashed for Marvel, as well as some top-secret projects that will be announced soon!
Let’s face it, people love to be scared. There is a catharsis in scary stories — they allow us to face our fears but in a safe setting. It’s one of the reasons horror movies are popular and profitable.
So, it’s no surprise that comics have a long tradition of horror stories. Going back to classic anthology series like Creepy or Eerie, comics readers have always had a fascination with macabre and the terrifying.
Every medium has its own strengths and weaknesses in regards to telling stories in specific genres. Films tell horror stories use the unique combination of picture and sound to create atmosphere and build scares. Comics obviously lack the ability to create terror aurally or with rapid editing. This in no way makes horror comics less terrifying, it simply means they must rely on a different bag of tools to scare the pants off of readers.
Comics are a medium built on turning two-dimensional drawings on a page into fully realized characters and worlds. In reading comics we as readers are asked to bring a lot to a story. We dictate the pace of the panels, the speed of the dialogue, and how long we linger on certain images. Our emotional investment must be extremely high to create a willingness to engage with the comic. To be scared we have to give ourselves over to the horror crafted by the creative team of book.
Horror as the Backdrop for Morality
There’s no way to talk about modern horror comics without bringing up The Walking Dead, written by Robert Kirkman and drawn in its first six issues by Tony Moore and subsequently by Charlie Adlard. The Walking Dead is unquestionably one of the most popular and successful comics of the modern era. While being a horror story, this is a book with mass appeal. Just look at the monster success of the television adaptation. One of the big keys to the book’s success is that the zombie apocalypse is a backdrop for a moving and deeply tragic morality tale. The Walking Dead is about struggling to survive through hopelessness.
In issue 24 of the comic, our protagonist Rick Grimes ends an epic speech with the line: “We are the Walking Dead.” It’s true, the characters of this book are doomed their only fate appears to be death or becoming part of the mass of flesh eating zombies. While this may seem incredibly grim, it actually allows Kirkman the opportunity to write a book examining the qualities of humanity that individuals and society hold most dear. While there is certainly dread in the frequent death or zombification of beloved characters, the book’s main focus is on the cost of survival. The moral debate at the center of the story is about what’s the point of surviving if we lose our humanity in the process.
Real Villains and the Potential for a Happy Ending
The struggle for humanity takes on a much more literal meaning in The Strain. Based on the series of popular novels, writer David Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston bring the story to comics. The Strain is about the apocalyptic spread of a virus that turns people into vampires.
Unlike the faceless cause of zombies in The Walking Dead, The Strain has a tangible villain at the core of its story. The Master is a centuries-old creature of evil with a plot to take over the world. Our heroes are not doomed. The Strain instead takes on more of a war story vibe. This is about humanity’s struggle against an oppressor and conceivably this battle can be won. There is a potential happy ending possible in this world.
It’s that hope that can actually be terrifying in The Strain. Instead of a world that’s already ended for all intents and purposes we see our world slipping into darkness and desperately root for our heroes to return things to normal.
While The Walking Dead and The Strain are urban nightmares about the dissolution of society, there is also room for more gothic horror in comics. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook is a creepy and wonderfully unsettling piece of Southern Gothic storytelling. Focusing on a small town’s fears of a young girl becoming a witch, there is a streak of paranoia that runs throughout the book. Of course, there’s the classic (and historical) image of a mob of frightened townsfolk trying to burn a witch. But there’s also the paranoia of one’s own destiny. If you’re told you’re going to be evil and do wicked things, does that mean your fate is sealed?
Playing on the classic horror trope of the fear of the matured woman and the power she can wield, Bunn and Crook also bring in plenty of eerie imagery. Images of a skinless boy and of course, his now sentient skin crossed with fiery ghosts and mulit-eyed monsters will stick with readers long after they put the book down. Especially, when they are presented in Crook’s dreamy hauntingly beautiful watercolor panels.
Playing into it’s own disturbing imagery though in a much more stark manner is Pixu from the Eisner winning team of Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fábio Moon, and Vasilis Lolos. Pixu delves deep into a Lovecraftian tale of madness and ever-encroaching darkness. The book bounces around a collection of tenants in an apartment complex. The disparate stories start to intertwine as the madness of the characters grows. This book plays on one’s fear of losing one’s sanity, a potent and always horrific concept especially in the hands of such masters of the medium.
For those looking for something a little more off the beaten path, there is Beasts of Burdenfrom Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. It’s your classic paranormal investigation team story, except all the investigators are dogs and cats. While this may sound like a cute and cuddly kids book, it’s straight up horror (with a bit of a wink). These household pets battle with a cannibalistic frog, cat witches, and even team up with Hellboy in one story. For those looking to balance their monsters and supernatural entities with adorable animals here is a book for you.
So, it’s clear horror is alive and well in the comics world. There are plenty of stories out there to give you creeps, but hopefully now you might have a greater understanding of why they scare you. Monsters and creepy imagery are a hugely necessary part of a horror story, but the sign of a great one is an emotional resonance that sticks with you long after the story is finished.
H.P. Lovecraft’s name is indelibly linked to the horror genre. A true master of spinning the mundanely macabre into cerebral terror that pesters the mind long after you’ve finished reading his works. Lovecraft’s voice reaches out of his grave and aims to scare us into our own. The Lovecraftian horror stories are his legacy, and some of today’s top creators are carrying the torch.
He’s introduced the psychological and the existential to our fears, invented incredible monsters to feed upon us, and shone new (albeit flickering) light on the oblique things that have always quickened our pulses. It’s no surprise his influence has exerted itself all things horror, including comic books.
Locke & Keyis something of a comic phenomenon. It’s been re-released in several reprints including a master edition and a holiday set. It’s also been turned into a coloring book, a card game, adapted into an audioplay, and there was even an infamous TV pilot.
Both the Harrow County and Locke & Key series share a legacy of Lovecraftian horror that helps to define them as something beyond mere scary stories. While there are countless comics that have been influenced by Lovecraft’s work, these two series stand apart when looking at the elements that truly make Lovecraft’s work singular.
What makes a Lovecraftian story truly different than your average tale is its execution. Lovecraft tales are an intricate combination of a gothic story of inherited guilt, a monster story about a powerful otherworldly being, and part psychological trauma. These stories offer more than just your typical jump and scare horror. Lovecraft’s stories are dark and threatening, pushing readers beyond their boundaries of belief.
Harrow County is Ripe with Lovecraftian Horror Touches
Slow burning, lingering terror is what you expect when imagining Lovecraft’s work and it’s absolutely what you get in Harrow County. It’s a visceral new take on the tradition of small town witch stories. It builds a sense of dread, slowly unveiling the truth of the dark magic that haunts the eponymous county. The heroine, Emmy, finds that she is intimately tied to the terrible legacy that has mired Harrow County in fear for generations, leading to revelations that stain the rest of the unfolding story. Harrow Countytakes this classic structure of a witch story and broadens it with Lovecraftian themes of inheritance, the resurgence of eldritch powers, and toxic superstition.
Harrow County is the kind of story that sits on your chest, making it subtly harder and harder to breath as the panels pass. It’s makes you feel anxiety about putting your feet near that unthought of gap between your bed and your floor, and reminds you that you really should run up the basement stairs.
It’s not just a New England Witch story. It’s a story about the things we see in the dark and the what they could become if only given the right injection of magic. It’s not just a ghost story. It’s the story of the primordial things that made us first image them away as ghosts.
Locke & Key Echoes Lovecraft’s Love of the Forbidden
Much like Harrow County, Locke & Key is filled to the brim with its share of monsters. The Locke family is faced with ghosts, a manipulative echo that lives at the bottom of of their well, living shadows, giants ,and demons that threaten to rip apart the very fabric of their world. The story reminds us, however, that the most dangerous monsters can be the people that have been right next to us all along.
From the very beginning, it is evident that Locke & Key draws on Lovecraft for inspiration. References to his work are made throughout, but most importantly, the very first issue finds the Locke family relocating to the New England town named Lovecraft after the murder of their patriarch. The true significance of this is because Lovecraft’s settings are so iconic, with many of his works taking place in pastoral villages or small towns in New England. In fact, this type of setting is so deeply associated with the late writer that it’s gained the nickname “Lovecraft Country.” This setting is used with purpose, as these places resist modernity and foster an eerie isolation that glances at the modern world, but shies away from it.
In Locke & Key, you see echoes of Lovecraft’s fascination for the forbidden, especially when it comes to the idea of hidden knowledge. Several of his stories touch on the subject of the erasure or obscurement of memory, and the discovery of secret things hidden from the minds of others.
These stories find their answer in the magic of the Keyhouse as it blurs the lines between memory, fantasy and reality. To Lovecraft, knowledge was a primeval power that upon looking into its depths could drive a person to madness. This destructive quality is threaded throughout Locke & Key, with the blooming knowledge of the Keyhouse becoming poisonous to the people tied to it and reaching beyond the pages to disturb the minds of the people who read about it.
Harrow County and Locke & Key are those rare series that will linger in your bones for long after you’ve finished reading them. Both share a similar heritage that makes them something more than just your run of the mill scary comic both as they are heavily influenced by the master of horror craft, H. P. Lovecraft. Both embrace the themes he used to terrify his audience while translating them into a new medium, all the while haunting an entirely new genre with them.
This week for New Comic Book Day, Batman and Two-Face take a road trip, we learn about a cult that crashed the stock market, Harrow County’s Emmy finds out she has more family than she knew of, and Dead No More starts to unravel. As always these were only a few of this week’s new releases that stood out from the crowd. Check out our other blog articles to see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!
SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.
As Dead No More gears up, Amazing Spider-Man #16 lays the groundwork for what could be a pivotal moment in the Parker story. Jameson Sr. lays in a hospital bed with a genetic unknown disease. A scientist from NEW U tells the Parker and Jameson family that there is a new procedure that could work. Jay Jr. is hesitant but Peter wants to try. As Peter goes over NEW U’s research, an explosion pulls Spider-Man to a Parker Industries Plant. Spider-Man saves the day, or so it seems.
In this tale, which I like to consider “Gotham by Midnight (Run),” Batman is taking Two-Face on a road trip in an effort to permanently remove the fractured personality of Harvey Dent. Two-Face, on the acid-scarred hand, has other plans. Which he sets into motion offering to release all the blackmail material gained on everyone in Gotham over the years. Some surprises reveal that this dirt the Deacon of Duality has runs deep and no one is safe.
The coloring by Dean White in this issue really adds texture and depth to the art, and Snyder’s pacing is as methodical as always. The backup story in this issue is even more compelling to me though. Having Duke (from the excellent We Are Robin) stepping into his new role training with Batman for what appears to be more of an ally than a sidekick role this time around. They set the boundary that he is not going to be Robin, but something else entirely. While also laying out the various training styles and how they resonated differently with each of Batman’s former sidekicks with color coding. Very interesting stuff that enriches the iconic Batman mythology even further.
What if I told you that you could be rich but, you’ll pay in blood. Money, Power, and Magic – it’s all one in the same in The Black Monday Murders.
Johnathan Hickman’s newest series tells a tale of altered history, where Black Tuesday (the stock market crash of 1929), was set in play because of a debt. We as a whole owed someone or something and it was time to pay. We get jumped into the present as we see a detective getting a new case that’s one of his…
As a first issue, this really pulls you in giving you a lot of backstory and insight to this world. There are internet forum posts, history book pages, and company/family tree’s added into this oversized issue. It gives just enough information to keep you intrigued.
I always love Tomm Coker’s art and this series is no exception. Tomm draws out panels and frames them like a cinematographer. It’s amazing.
One of the best horror comics being published today – Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County – continues to weave this terror of magic, resurrection, and fate. In issue #15, Emmy is given a deeper look at her “family.” Given a choice that will not only affect her but her home as well.
Crook does it again with his beautiful watercolor pages. Even if you don’t care for horror, his landscapes of Harrow County are just gorgeous to look at. Cullen Bunn also has this magnificent way of crafting his story to get you to come back month after month.
There is a reason Harrow County was nominated for Best New Series at the 2016 Eisner’s and won Best Ongoing Title at the Ghastly awards in 2015. If you haven’t been reading this series, now is a fantastic time as the Syfy channel is adapting it for a series. Pick up Harrow County you won’t be disappointed! [Martin M. at TFAW.com]
What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!
From new series to longtime and recent favorites, this week had a strong crop of new comics. We picked a few of this week’s new releases that we thought were standouts. This is the fifth of our seven-part series of New Comic Book Day blog articles. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!
SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep as many spoilers under our hats as possible, but a nugget may sneak through to our reviews.
This issue of Harrow County sees Eisner-winning creator Carla Speed McNeil (Finder, No Mercy) join the team for an issue that takes a pause from our story thus far to focus on one of my favorite characters, the Skinless Boy.
You can see Bunn’s pacing himself in this issue, letting the story slowly unfold to reveal yet another piece of the puzzle. Even if you haven’t been following the series thus far, I recommend that you check out this issue–you won’t be disappointed. As far as art, I think Carla Speed McNeil was an inspired choice for this issue.
While different from series artist Tyler Crook’s art, McNeil’s work is haunting in her own right. You can tell she’s been a fan of the series from the get-go, because it’s clear a lot of love went into each and every panel. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]
The Flash #48 By: Robert Venditti, Jesus Merino, Ivan Reis
Barry Allen is brought in to a task force assembled by the Central City Police Department to bring in the Flash! As if that weren’t bad enough, the other members of the task force include the Rogues: Golden Glider, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Trickster, and of course, Captain Cold.
It’s going to be a hard time escaping the team that includes the alter-ego of the Fastest Man Alive. Luckily he is in a position to sabotage the efforts of his would-be captors. He’s going to need to think quickly on his feet, which wouldn’t normally seem like much of an issue for the Flash, if only he could keep traction to stay one step (or thousands) ahead. They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but the creative team has been electrifying with this arc of The Flash. [Casey D. at TFAW.com]
Jonesy seems like a typical teenage girl: She’s cute, lovable and we can all relate with her everyday struggles in high school. However, there is one little thing makes Jonesy unique from all the others . . . she’s got a wacky super power and a pet ferret!
While dealing with the biggest event for high school, the dreaded Valentine’s Day grams, Jonesy starts to show her super-secret superpower throughout the school day. People start to catch on but she doesn’t care! She is taking charge and taking no nonsense from anybody in this issue but soon ends up finding her sole purpose is to teach her high school a lesson.
I love how relatable and funny this issue is and it makes you wonder, what is she going to do? What’s her superpower? Well, Jumpin Jehosaphat! Better get to reading issue Jonesy #1! [Darcey M. at Universal TFAW]
Ms Marvel #4 By: G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Cliff Chiang
Life can be tough for a teenager: you have school work to get done on time, friends to keep up with, family to keep happy — and then there’s always being an Avenger. That seems to cut into all of the other time. In this issue of Ms. Marvel, Kamala has to find a way to balance her home life, school life, and trying to earn confidence from Captain America and Iron Man. No problem at all, right? Especially with some help from her friend Bruno and something he’s been working on in the science lab.
Yet again, G. Willow Wilson continues to put her amazing and unique spin on an original character, and Nico Leon’s art adds incredible depth to the world of Ms. Marvel and everyone in it. You also read more of Ms. Marvel’s adventures in All-New All-Different Avengers, on shelves now. [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]
What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below! Be sure to share these posts on Facebook or Twitter if you want us to continue this series of posts. 🙂
As we look forward to the new year, we want to stop and remember the great books that were released in 2015. What follows is the first in a series of five “Best Comics of 2015” posts we’ll be posting through January 6. Starting January 7, you’ll have the opportunity to weigh in and help us crown the Best Comic of 2015!
Known for publishing licensed books such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan, Predator, and Tomb Raider, Dark Horse Comics also has a strong commitment to creator-owned series. Series like Colder, Usagi Yojimbo, Hellboy, ElfQuest hit the shelves month in and month out. If you see the horse on the cover, you’re going to get a great comic!
The Best of Dark Horse (in no particular order):
Fight Club 2 By: Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart, Nate Piekos, David Mack
I know that I’m about to break the first rule of Fight Club, but I think the sequel warrants a little leeway, don’t you? In the 10 years that we’ve waited for Chuck Palahniuk to invite us to Fight Club again, we’ve been hoping that Marla and the novel’s protagonist were free of Durden and were left to settle in to normal lives. It seems as if others–even Marla herself–have other plans.
Throwing us right back into the ring, Palahniuk delivers Fight Club 2, a story that is equally compelling to fans of the book and the movie. Palahniuk teams with Eisner-award winner Cameron Stewart to take us for a full-on beat down, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
One thing that really stood out to me from the first issue was Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart’s panel design. From the first page you get this feeling that this isn’t Chuck’s first time writing for comics. Cameron Stewart flexes his artistic muscle, resulting in art that will forever take over when I re-read the novel. And I’m completely ok with that.
You wanted more Tyler? You got more Tyler! [Martin M.]
ei8ht By: Rafael Albuquerque, Mike Johnson, Nate Piekos
What happens to your keys or that matching sock when you lose them? The short answer is that they’re in The Meld. Here’s the long answer. Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson’s five-issue miniseries, ei8ht takes us on a journey to a place that exists outside of time. Past, present, and future meet in a story that draws you in and keeps you hooked right up until the end.
The team expertly uses color to help the reader know when we are, with the past in green, present in purple, and future in blue. The resulting effect is that a seemingly disjointed story comes together in a way we haven’t seen before.
ei8ht is one of those books that’s a little off the beaten path, but sticks with you after you read it and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. The first arc was captivating and hinted at a much larger world for future (or past) stories, and I’m 100% on board for the next trip. [Josh C.]
Lady Killer By: Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Laura Allred
Co-written by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, Lady Killer is a tour de force unlike anything modern day comics has seen in a very long time.
Many people liken the series to Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs or Dexter, but really, Lady Killer is in a league all its own. The series takes the classic idea of the American housewife and turns it, rather violently, on its blood-soaked ear from the get go.
The strength of the story’s main character, Josie Schuller, hits on the struggle to take back what was once “yours.” To find a place that you can come to in your life where you have to work as hard as you possibly can to make a bad thing right. If there is any analogy that I can take away from this story, it’s that you can take control of your life. And Josie is a strong character that will take her life back, screaming, bloody and impaled, but at the end, her life will be hers.
The storytelling is flawless as is the characterization that Jamie and Joëlle bring to the table. The world they create is rich and filled with colorful and villainous characters that make you actually fear for Josie and her family. This fear for the main character within the comics world is indeed a rare and welcome commodity as it serves to create an emotional connection with Josie and her family, and makes this book a tense page-turner. [Ethan S.]
A book that will make your skin crawl, literally. Witten by the prolific Cullen Bunn (the busiest man in comics), Harrow County is a creepy little piece of Southern Gothic storytelling. The story centers on a young girl named Emmy, around her 18th birthday she begins to get visions and exhibit strange powers. Is she an instrument of good or evil is the question that forms the spine of this delightfully unsettling horror book.
Tyler Crook’s art is both gorgeous and at times disturbing. At its core this is a coming of age story about a young girl questioning her future and her path in life as the world she knows and people around are changed forever. Like the best horror stories, the scariest things are the seemingly familiar. [John C.]
Archie Vs. Predator By: Alex de Campi, Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, Jason Millet, John Workman
Archie’s no stranger to being prey—after all, Betty and Veronica have been pursuing him for more than 70 years! But what happens when he’s up against the universe’s most terrifying hunters? Dark Horse and Archie Comics teamed up this year to bring us Archie vs. Predator by Alex de Campi (Grindhouse, No Mercy), Fernando Ruiz (Archie: The Married Life), and Rich Koslowski (Three Fingers), delivering equal measures of gore and humor, and making it one of my favorite miniseries of 2015!
Archie vs. Predator starts out like any ordinary tale from Riverdale: Jughead wins a luxury beach vacation and brings the whole gang out for spring break. A popularity contest and a confrontation between Betty and Veronica ensues. However, when things quickly escalate, a vengeful Betty accidentally attracts the attention of a Predator, who follows them home. Ridiculously violent hijinks ensue.
De Campi shines a thoughtful light on the age-old triangle of America’s favorite teenagers–and the back-and-forth between Betty and Veronica–and it’s endlessly fun to see such rampant gore in the classic Archie style. A must-read! [Elisabeth F.]
Whether you’re buying for a new fan who discovered The Walking Dead through the hit AMC TV series, or for someone who’s been reading the Walking Dead comic books for years, these Walking Dead products will be a hit. The Walking Dead Action FiguresPrices Starting at $11.99 For fans of the TV show, our selection of Walking Dead Action Figures are sure to fit the bill. Choose from fan-favorite characters like Rick Grimes, Michonne, Carol, Hershel, and over two dozen other figures. Manufactured by McFarlane Toys, you can rest assured that the quality of the sculpt and paint will be second to none. The person who finds one of these under the tree will love your gift. The Walking Dead Graphic NovelsPrices Starting at $11.69 Great for fans who’ve been reading the series. The Walking Dead Compendium editions collect over 40 issues of the series and are impressive 1,000+ page books that can also used as bludgeoning tools in case of an actual zombie apocalypse. The third compendium was just released in October, and is sure to be a hit this year. The Walking Dead Omnibus collections are great for collectors. The most recent of these hardcover editions was released just this past week, and it’ll be a great surprise for the lucky recipient. Harrow County By: Cullen Bunn, Tyler Crook Your Price: $13.49 Sure, you might be thinking “But isn’t this a Walking Dead gift list?” You’re right–it really is. Robert Kirkman’s series has left an indelible mark on the comic book industry and fans alike, most notably opening the door for other horror comics to send shivers down the spines of readers around the world. Harrow County is one of the most gripping horror stories in years, and it’s currently under development for a new television series.
Not sure what to get? A TFAW Gift Certificate is a one-size-fits all treat, or feel free to contact us directly via Live Chat at TFAW.com. You can also call us at 800-862-0052 or email us, and we’ll be glad to help you select the perfect gift for that special geek in your life.