This new book from writer Matthew Wilding and artist Matt Rower is a slice of classic small press horror – in that it makes up for in enthusiasm and passion, what it may lack in subtlety and finesse! Split into two stories, the main chunk of the book follows the titular Nightmare Man, a sinister character from our hero’s dreams who he sees in a local cafe and begins to question his sanity. While the second story Little Things, is all about a mysterious stranger in a small town. Both stories have a very Stephen King feel to them, with Nightmare Man having a bit of a Freddy Krueger feel to it as it mixes dreams and reality. They’re both really strong horror short stories and are very readable. The artwork from Matt Rowe is a bit rough around the edges but it has that passion and energy which we so often mention in reviews here. While we could critique it for not having perfect composition or immaculate rendering, that is to do it a disservice as it has a style which really suits this kind of story and Rowe does a great job creating two very creepy villains and he tells a good story. A fun read, that will definitely stay with you after the fact, and have you second guessing those familiar faces in your local coffee shop!
This new anthology comes courtesy of the pen of Mat Greaves – creator of the brilliant Chip McFitz books. Blat! feels very much inspired by vintage ‘comix’ collection of the 50s and 60s, but with the kind of modern anarchic humour of Viz. It’s a mix of odd rambling stories, that don’t really go anywhere, but that is OK because Mat’s work just has this charm and personality to it that means you are just happy to be along for the ride. Opener Gone Swimming is perfect example of this, which starts off as a young kid going swimming and then evolves into what could be a semi auto biographical tale of a group of mates on an impromptu night out. It doesn’t really resolve in a traditional way, but it was a fun journey while you were on it. Next up is No One Wants To Be Here, which is Greaves taking a look at the working culture of the world and why we should make the most of the time we have and feels like a more traditional political strip like David Ziggy Greene or the recent Nick Prolix strip in SKRAWL. And finally Oh Boy is a simple tale about an unfortunate little guy trying to get into a gig, which has a sort of old school Max Fleischer style to it. Each story has subtlety different artwork with Greaves mixing up his style brilliantly. They feel tonally the same but the styling of each is different, making it feel like 3 unique stories. All in, this is another great read from one of our favourite cartoonists and we hope this will be the start of a regular series.
The new book from Her Prosperity’s David Taylor is another superb slice of genre fiction, this time set in an ultra violent dystopian game show called Wild Nature. Although we have seen this concept in indie comics before (Kill Screen, Killtopia for example) Taylor brings enough originality to it to make it feel fresh and new. Partly this is thanks to the outrageous characters in the game itself – the animal based Wild Nature sees the character dress up in stylised animal masks, which includes main man Swan and antagonist Rabbit. As such the characters have a darkly comic style to them (that reminded us a bit of Sink)and helps emphasise the surreal nature of this world. As with any genre tale like this, the story leaps around in time showing us how Swan became to be a part of the Wild Nature phenomenon and also how he copes with life outside of it. In doing this Taylor is able to add a depth to the characters while also looking at the fleeting and fickle nature of fame. Visually it looks really great with a very stylised look to it, from the cover onwards. While not always the most polished in terms of finishing, Taylor’s artwork has that energy and passion that we love in small press, and the whole thing feels very complete and well conceived. If you love 80s action genre thrillers or men in scary animal masks then this is definitely the book for you!