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    Between the Occult and the Detective

    Between the Occult and the Detective

    There are two comic themes that when combined can make for enthralling reading — detectives/private eyes and magic. This coupling of sleuthing and the supernatural (including religion, the occult, sorcery and more) is pervasive in comics and the noir characteristics just heighten the thrills.

    hellblazerAnd no one fits that bill better than the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Created originally in Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing in 1985, it wasn’t until 1988 when Hellblazer #1 hit the stands. Ever since, John has been working his magic in comics, on film in the Constantine movie, and in the short-lived and underrated Constantine television show. He’s  also part of pop culture in general (the Supernatural TV series borrows heavily from John Constantine for Castiel’s character).

    With 30-plus years of this character’s history, it can be daunting to know where to start. A good entry point is a graphic novel. Surprisingly, it’s not the  first volume — John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins, but the fifth volume: Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits. Written by longtime Hellblazer writer Garth Ennis, this volume actually inspired parts of the 2005 Constantine movie.

    The story is pretty simple — John’s dying. All those cigarettes have caused an advanced terminal lung cancer. Knowing that his soul is damned and Hell is ready for him, John moves to cure his disease and save himself. What happens after he sets down this course is truly amazing.

    Another must read Hellblazer arc was created by celebrated crime novelist, Ian Rankin, for Vertigo’s crime imprint called Dark Entries in 2009. This was the first Original Graphic Novel (also called an OGN), meaning it was never released as single issues. The plot involves John trying to figure out why a house on a reality TV program is haunted. Of course, he can’t stop production, so he joins the series and starts to unravel the mystery.

    One of the big draws is the inclusion of religion within the series. It’s not just focused on Christianity. Voodoo magic is used regularly not only by Constantine, but his frenemy Papa Midnight. Although Catholicism is most prominent, the series never ignores the idea of other religions in the world.

    Look Overseas for Great Horror Comics

    Hellblazer isn’t the only series to blend magic and religion. Around the same time, Italian writer Tiziano Sclavi was introducing the world to Dylan Dog. A self-proclaimed Nightmare Investigator, Dylan, unlike John Constantine, was likeable. By 2011, Dylan Dog reached 300 issues, but only a handful made it to the United States.

    Dylan’s occult interactions mainly revolve around the classic monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Although, demons have crossed paths with him a few times.

    Many were first introduced to this character in the Dylan Dog Case Files from Dark Horse Comics. This graphic novel featured selected stories that were translated and released just prior to the Dylan Dog: Dead of Night film that starred Brandon Routh. The Dylan Dog Case Files is a great compilation of stories from the Italian series, but up until September 2016 it was the only source of Dylan Dog stories available in the U.S. Now, new stories are starting to come out from Epicenter Comics. Reportedly, there will also be reprints of past stories.

    How to Steal a Ghost

    ghostedAnother series that blends crime and the occult is Joshua Williamson’s Ghosted. Williamson is currently heading up The Flash series in DC’s Rebirth, and it’s been great.

    Ghosted, published by Image Comics, is further evidence that Williamson is the real deal. The series follows one of the world’s greatest thieves as he’s pulled into the world of the occult. He’s broken out of prison and offered the chance to steal something no one else has — a ghost.

    Think equal parts Ocean’s 11 and The Shining. Things are never as they seem, and our hero has to rely on more than his wits to get out of this situation. Pulling together a team of experts to help him steal this ghost, he assembles a psychic, an occult historian, a tech guy to record the ghost, and a skeptic. Overall, if you want to add a little heist into your horror, Ghosted is for you.

    Don’t Fear, The Slayer is Here

    buffyWho could really forget about the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Buffy hunts vampires, but her adventures go WAY further than that including her best friend going into full-witch mode on her!

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Buffy Summers, the chosen one in a long line of young women destined to battle evil forces. She becomes “The Slayer” giving her increased physical strength, endurance, agility, accelerated healing, intuition, and a limited degree of clairvoyance. Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Giles, whose job is to train and assist the Slayers. Then it gets more complicated.

    But when the TV show ended, the fun didn’t. After the official comic book continuation of the series in Buffy Season 8, 9, and 10, we’re poised to jump into Buffy Season 11 in November 2016. Unencumbered by network television show budgets, this comic has gone to some great heights in recent years.

    The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator

    hellboyHellboy is one of the longest running, most widely celebrated horror series. With hundreds of issues and dozens of spinoffs, Mike Mignola has done something really amazing with this series by creating a new universe.

    Aside from DC and Marvel, there really aren’t a lot of big universes in comics, especially ones that walk that horror/mystery line so well. Hellboy or the “Mignola-verse” is a rich tapestry that features a variety of complex characters set a world that draws on centuries of folk-tales, yarns, and fables.

    Hellboy remains one of the few series that begs you to re-read the stories regularly. It’s great for curling up with during inclement weather or when you find yourself with an extended weekend.

    There are plenty of other occult and horror comics that split their genre with detective and noir storytelling. What are some of your favorites? Let us know below.

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    The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17: Something To Fear- A World Ruled By The Dead

    Review of The Walking Dead vol 17

    the walking dead vol 17SPOILER ALERT: I do my best to write spoiler free reviews, but this is an interesting situation. The next season of the television series is loosely based off The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17. The show runners don’t always treat events in the exact same manner as the graphic novel and I will try my best not to spoil the book, so it may even be a moot point, but be warned. Spoilers (maybe).

    In Volumes 14, 15, and 16 of The Walking Dead TPB, a horde of walkers breach the walls of Alexandria and threaten to overrun the gated community. Alexandria’s residents face down the horde and save their community. In the commotion, Carl is shot in the face and goes into a coma. The residents become restless and start questioning Rick’s leadership abilities. Rick quells the mutiny and the community begins the process of rebuilding.

    While scouting for supplies, Alexandrians meet a man named Paul Monroe who claims he is from a nearby band of more than 200 people, called the Hilltop Colony. Rick and the others go to scout out Hilltop, and find a walled community that appears even safer than Alexandria. The Hilltop folks warn Rick about a dangerous band of men, known as the Saviors and led by man called Negan, who take half of Hilltop’s food and supplies in exchange for “protection” from walkers and rogue agents.

    In The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17, Rick and crew encounter a group of the Saviors, who demand tribute from Alexandria. Rick refuses and the crew lays waste to all but one of the Saviors, sending him back to Negan with the message Alexandria will not bow. Mistake.

    Turns out, the Saviors are a much larger group than Rick anticipated, and their leader makes the Governor look like a school yard bully by comparison. When Negan catches up to Rick, he mercilessly beats one of Rick’s group to death with a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat while Rick and company are forced to watch helplessly. (This is where season 6 of the television show left viewers hanging.)

    Robert Kirkman spent the last three volumes, roughly 15 issues, setting up this punch to the gut. Just when it seems like Rick and company are making some headway, getting to a comfortable place where they can relax and pretend like the world is an okay place again, the hammer drops. All feelings of hope, optimism, and celebration that were left over from the recent victory over the zombie horde have disappeared. Once again, we’re shown that while the walkers are dangerous, the real monsters are still breathing.

    The Walking Dead television show picks back up on October 23rd. If you’re looking to get your fix in the mean time, The Walking Dead graphic novels are available through Volume 25. Go back to Volume 1 and start the series all over again, or pick up Volumes 17 and 18 to follow along with the current storyline.

    The Walking Dead TPB Volume 17: Something To Fear, Image Comics, released November 21, 2012, written by Robert Kirkman, pencils and ink Charlie Adler, gray tones Cliff Rathburn, letters by Russ Wooton, $11.99

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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    Come to our Witch Doctor: Mal Practice Release Party

    Meet Witch Doctor's Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner

    Comics fans, it’s time to take your medicine: join creators Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner at the Witch Doctor: Mal Practice release party at the Portland TFAW 6/19 from 7 to 10 p.m.

    RSVP on Facebook now!

    Pick up the second volume of Witch Doctor, the popular horror series brought to you by Image Comics, and get it signed! Free food and beer (for those 21+ with valid ID) will be provided.

    Witch Doctor made headlines in 2011 when the comic was hand-picked by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) as the first original series published by his imprint, Skybound. Lauded for Seifert’s deft, entertaining writing and Ketner’s evocative, bold art, Witch Doctor was diagnosed a critical and financial success.

    Find out why — see you at the Witch Doctor: Mal Practice release party 6/19!

    RSVP TO OUR WITCH DOCTOR MAL PRACTICE RELEASE PARTY

    ORDER WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE

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    Walking Dead Weekend: See Charlie Adlard’s Art + Watch Season 3 for FREE!

    Walking Dead Party & Charlie Adlard Gallery ShowLove The Walking Dead? Live in the Portland area? This is the weekend for you! TFAW is hosting two incredible all-ages events, making this a true Walking Dead Weekend. Even better: it’s all free!

    First, celebrate the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead at our Walking Dead Party & Charlie Adlard Gallery Show October 13 at the Portland TFAW from 7:00-10:00 p.m. This is a rare opportunity to see Adlard’s original Walking Dead art in person! Free food and beer (for those 21+ with valid ID) provided.

    We’ll be displaying 15 pieces of Charlie Adlard’s art from The Walking Dead, including original pages featuring characters like Rick, Michonne, and Andrea, as well as some fantastic zombie sketches. Plus, bundles of The Walking Dead #100, including variants A-H, will be available for just $20!

    Plus, ALL of the art on display is available for purchase through Splash Page Comic Art! Click here to browse!

    Enter our Walking Dead Costume Contest to win prizes from Skybound Entertainment and TFAW, and pose in front of the green screen to see yourself on Facebook after the event.

    RSVP TO OUR WALKING DEAD PARTY & SHARE ON FACEBOOK

    Walking Dead Season 3 Free ScreeningsNext, you’ve heard the rumblings: it’s true, Things From Another World is once again sponsoring FREE screenings of The Walking Dead at the Hollywood Theatre at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd starting October 14. This is an all-ages event, so spread the word!

    Join your fellow zombie fans at 7:00 p.m. PST October 14 for the premiere of The Walking Dead Season 3 with hosts cortandfatboy. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., so get there early to grab a beer and a seat!

    AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a critical and ratings smash, and Season 3 promises new locations, new characters, and shocking deaths. Now’s the time to get your zombie on–make sure to RSVP, and spread the word to your friends!

    RSVP TO OUR WALKING DEAD SCREENINGS & SHARE ON FACEBOOK

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