It’s the spookiest day of the year and to celebrate the day of ghosts and ghouls we take a look at three frightful indie horror comics including: Leah Moore and John Reppions latest collection of MR James short stories in Ghost Stories of An Antiquary Volume 2; the hilarious and horrible Horrere Halloween Special; plus Thom Burgess’ terrifying travellers tale Hallows Fell.
Ghost Stories of An Antiquary Volume 2 (Self Made Hero)
What better way to creep yourself out this halloween, than a collection of ghost stories from the master of the genre MR James. Leah Moore and John Reppion have adapted four more of James’ spine-chilling short stories that are sure to have you locking the door and checking the windows. This second volume includes one of James’ most enduring tales Whistle And I’ll Come To You about an academic who is plagued by a mysterious visitor after finding an ancient whistle while playing golf. There’s also Room 13 about a Danish academic trying to discover the secrets of a hotel’s room numbering system. Count Magnus which is a Bram Stoker-esque tale about a travel writer and a mysterious nobleman. And finally The Treasure of Abbot Thomas which sees a treasure hunter get more than he bargained for at the bottom of a well. Moore and Reppion do a very respectful job of adapting the text, maintaining the formal Victorian language and the anecdotal tone of the originals. Although this does result in quite a dense reading experience, at the same time it maintains the sense of dread and slow building tensions for which James is so well loved. Each story is brought to life by a different artists, and while George Kambadis and Al Davson’s more formal style works well for their respective stories, it is Abigail Larsen’s angular and pointed style in Count Magnus and Meghan Hetrick’s beautiful painterly work in The Treasure of Abbot Thomas which are the stars of the show (especially what lurks at the bottom of the well!)
Tragic Tales of Horrere: Halloween Special
Halloween wouldn’t be the same without a creepy tale or two from the Madius boys Rob Jones and Mike Sambrrok. The latest insteallment of their horror spin off Horrere, in which they team up with other like minded creators, is another fantastic selection of horror and humour from the uk indie scene’s macabre masters! Featuring three chilling tales, that start with The Quiescent a slice of Victorian gothic with Lovecraftian tentacle beasts thrown in for good measure as a gentleman goes to visit an old friend in a creepy mansion and gets more than he bargains for (including a trademark Jones and Sambrook twist at the end). Artist Joe Becci does a great job of creeping you out with his pencil and monochrome wash style that sets the tone for a really great collection. It’s followed by Octopus & Raven that is a more unconventional story that blends horror and folklore as a young native American girl interacts with the mysterious ‘octopus’ on the beach while the elders look on as if part of some kind of ritual. The octopus is a sea creature who has taken human form, complete with tentacle hair, all of which is visualized in a very clean and stylised style by writer Mat Pringle that is a really interesting contrast to the opener. And finally we have the most sophisticated story of the three with Do You Want To See, a split narrative story about a group of modern day kids and some 17th century robbers who both end up exploring a mysterious cave and find a throne and book that is more dangerous than first seems. The story leaps from one period to the other but tells the story in the same path of them finding the cave and it’s contents, and the way it blends together is really smart and deserves multiple readings to really appreciate.
Thom Burgess follow up to Equally creepy The Eyrie, Hallows Fell sees a city boy have a few too many post-work drinks and has a journey from hell on a way to a party with his in-laws to be. Having been dropped off in the middle of nowhere after being unable to pay his taxi bill he encounters a sinister woman in a deshevlled dress at a bus stop. As he attempts to make his way home by a variety of means the woman haunts his travels, but is she real of just a figment of his imagination.. It’s a classic ghost story with the idea of an apparition following someone on a journey, but has a smart contemporary edge mixed in with t’s English folklore roots. Drawing on a number of similar stories about Blue Bell Hill in Kent (which Burgess outlines in the notes at the back) it has shades of an MR James story, but also of classic Brit horror like the Wicker Man or even American Werewolf in London with it’s mix of an outsider being unsettled by things in the country. The story is moodily rendered by artist Izzy Stanic whose black and white pencil shaded artwork gives the whole thing a really creepy and foreboding quality as some of the darker elements are hidden in dark shadows. It has a really frenetic quality to it too, which builds as the events get more manic but also hides over some of the more raw around the edges composition work and facial expressions. As does the heavy use of shadow, which for all it’s foreboding can also make it feel a bit impenetrable at time. However if you like a dark and creepy ghost story with a sting in the tale ending then Hallows Fell will make you never want to be late for a family party again!