Tag Archives: nightmares

Creepy: Issue 23

Creepy_23

On a recent trip to the comic store, I opted to discontinue a couple arcs that I had been following. I had just lost interest and it felt like they were dragging out the stories. So, I perused the racks looking for something different and then an issue of Creepy caught my eye. The cover—dark, gothic, and spectral—enticed me. I have loved horror since I was a kid, and I used to read early versions of Creepy growing up (much to the dismay of my parents). I had read a couple of the “new” Creepy publications put out by Dark Horse,so I decided to pick this one up and give it a read. I have to say, I really liked it.

The stories in the issue were reminiscent of the old graphic horror tales I remember from my childhood. Even the black-and-white artwork captured the shadowy essence of early graphic horror. And rather than being serialized, where you have to commit to issue after issue following a labyrinthine arc, Creepy is composed of several short vignettes, each one a stand-alone tale steeped in folklore and the macabre. I particularly liked one story entitled “The Picture of Death,” which was about an 18th century traveler who stays in a boardinghouse room that has a cursed painting. The painting, populated with grotesquely surreal creatures right out of an Hieronymus Bosch painting, comes to life and draws the unsuspecting man into a nightmarish realm. It was an amazing depiction of how art can also unlock darker regions of the psyche which can lead a person into insanity.

The inside of the back cover is a single-page one-panel tale depicting a mythological demon who creates a play so dark that reading it drive a person insane. I thought it would be worth sharing  the accompanying quote.

Hastur, ruling from the lost, mythical city of Carcosa, revels in chaos and madness. None dare read the play written by this malicious entity, for fear of going insane, crying for salvation while Hastur’s soul-shattering stories give none.

Beware, precious reader, for you too will end up as the pitiful wretch seen here—one whose mind has traveled too far into the realm of the King in Yellow, only to be trapped with countless other lost souls!

If you have an interest in the macabre, then this is something for you. But be warned, these tales are not for the timid.

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Millennium: Issue 2

Millennium_02

Wow! This installment reminds me of why I loved this show so much when it was on TV. It draws you into a dark psychological labyrinth haunted by shadows, demons, nightmares, and insanity.

In this issue, Frank Black and Fox Mulder continue investigating into the death of Monte Propps, the released convict who had used strange runes and deprivation to drive people to take their own lives. While investigating a murder scene, Frank encounters a boy who is possessed by Legion.

Boy: She thought she could hold us… she didn’t realize I was using her to get closer to you. But you knew that. You’ve already seen it, haven’t you, with that gift of yours? I made you an offer once. That offer still stands.

Frank Black: Legion.

Boy: It’s good to see you, Frank. They put so much value on the taking of life, but so little on the nurturing of it. I know it vexes you sometimes, as it does me.

Frank Black: What do you want?

Boy: The same thing you want, Frank. The same thing they do.

If you were a fan of the show, then this series is a must-read. That said, I leave you with this thought:

IT HAS BEEN 5,527 DAYS SINCE THE NEW MILLENNIUM.


 

Further Reading:

Issue 1 Review

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Wytches: Issue 3

Wytches_03

This is definitely the creepiest comic I have read. Reading the pages and looking into the artwork is like coming across a dead animal or a car wreck. You don’t want to look at it and you know it will disturb you if you do, but you can’t help yourself. It really feels like I am having a nightmare when I read this. The images are that disturbing.

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The other thing that gets me at a visceral level is the powerlessness that the parents feel. It is a parent’s worst fear to have something happen to their child. This comic really plays on the psychological horror experienced by a parent as he or she witnesses their child slowly drawn into the realm of insanity, or worse…

In this issue, Mr. and Mrs. Rook search for their daughter, Sailor, who has disappeared in the woods. There is a great section where Sailor’s dad discovers her cell phone with a cracked screen. He reads her diary entry on the phone. The illustration shows the lines of text broken and fragmented by cracks in the glass, representing the cracks in Sailor’s sanity as her world begins to splinter.

There’s a house in my neck.

That’s what it feels like. A hollow with a second me living in there. A sick me with her own thoughts, her own dreams.

All she wants is one thing.

To go back to them, the things in the woods.

Sometimes, I think I can hear her screaming in there. Screaming for her parents. I can almost see them, out there in the trees. Waiting behind the branches. They have faces on the sides of their heads, to peek around at me. If I listen I can hear their teeth.

Mom and dad think I’m crazy. And maybe I am. I hope I am. I pinch the lump.

And it’s just a lump. It has no teeth.

I hope it’s a tumor.
Let it be a tumor.
Please be a tumor.

Someone cut it out.
I don’t want to go out there. I hear their teeth at night. Hungry.

They go

Chit. Chit. Chit. Chit. Chit. Chit. Chit. Chit. Chit.

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Alice Cooper: Issue #4

AliceCooperComic_04

This may be my favorite issue so far in this series. Alice travels into the realm of nightmares along with Bart the bully in search of Robbie. As with most bullies, Bart is cocky and arrogant, pretending not to have any fear; but as Alice points out, everyone has fears, and it is when you are asleep that your deep, dark fears surface from your subconscious.

You don’t know the first thing about fear. Not the deep, burrowing kind that give rise to nightmares, anyway. You make somebody afraid enough, you build up a balance in that account. You make them start to contemplate things… It happens unconsciously, at first. They start to fantasize alone, when you’re finished making them afraid. That’s when you realize…that the true power in what someone’s afraid of…is how they use it. You’re a tough kid, Bart. But everybody sleeps. Everybody dreams. And everybody is afraid of something. Which means we all have our own, private… nightmares.

The issue continues by exploring the psychology of fear and how fear manifests in nightmares, all done in conjunction with darkly rich and macabre illustrations. It also touches on bullying and how the victims of bullying can turn to the dark side.

Reading this had a cathartic effect. I was bullied as a kid and I could relate to those feelings of fear, which turn to resentment and anger. I’m also no stranger to nightmares and have had some intense ones over the years. But there is something exhilarating about nightmares. When you awaken, sweating and shaking, you also feel stronger for having stared your deepest fears in the face.

Thanks for stopping by, and keep on reading!

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Wytches: Issue 2

Wytches_02

Visually, this comic is disturbing. The artwork is something right out of a surrealist nightmare. I don’t know what it is about the colors, the superimposed images, the collage of shapes, but reading it feels like I am in a macabre dream from which I cannot wake up.

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The storyline is working well for me also. It has a basic thread which it is following—the young girl Sailor is pursued by some evil entities that dwell within ancient trees and are connected to a “pledge” which has not yet been clarified. But the story weaves and twists, just as I would expect in a dream. So while the events are basically linear, the story feels disjointed and this is heightened by flashbacks in the characters’ memories.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story. Suffice to say it is excellent and if you are a fan of surrealist horror, you will love this. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #1

AfterlifeArchie_01

Yesterday I went with my daughter to the Halloween ComicFest at our local comic store. They advertised free comics and treats, so we couldn’t pass it up. We were each allowed to choose three free comics from a table of available issue. One of the ones I selected was this Afterlife with Archie comic. WHOA!! This is nothing like the Archie comics I remember from when I was a kid.

This is some pretty dark stuff. Basically, Reggie hit’s Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog, while driving and kills it. Jughead, in distress, takes Hot Dog to Sabrina and her aunts to see if they can use magick to bring the dog back. The aunts say that since the animal’s spirit has passed to the next realm, there is nothing that they can do. Sabrina decides to use the Necronomicon to bring Hot Dog back from the dead. But bringing back the dead has negative consequences and the story turns very dark and graphic.

I have to say that I have always viewed Archie as kind of fluffy, mainstream stuff. This is anything but. It draws on the horror genre from film, books, and comics. It also makes references to the darker occult practices and beliefs which are pretty accurate. And the illustrations, all in black and white, are about as nightmarish as they come. In fact, I found this to be more graphic and scary than other horror comics I’ve read recently, such as Creepy and Eerie. In fact, this is so well-done and scary, I’m seriously considering reading the rest of this series. I’m not sure how many will be in the series, but I am going to look into it.

If you are into graphic horror, you should give this a read. I say without hesitation that, with the exception of Wytches, it is the best horror comic I have read in a long time.

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“Alice Cooper: The Last Temptation – Book II” by Neil Gaiman

LastTemptation_IIAfter reading the first issue, I went online and ordered the other two subsequent issues that complete the trilogy. Thankfully, they arrived before Halloween.

Today I read Book II, where we find young Steven haunted by his memories of the Theatre of the Real. Throughout the issue, Steven slips between reality and dark fantasy as the eerie showman continues to tempt him to attend another performance.

There is a great dream sequence that evokes imagery from Alice Cooper’s classic concept album, “Welcome to My Nightmare.” When Steven is in school, there are lots of references to the “School’s Out” album, such as song quotes written on the chalkboard and references to songs woven into the dialog, all of which work very well. Another nice touch is that, in class, Steven is reading Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which ties in with the theme of dark circuses and sideshows.

The idea of showmanship is also found throughout this issue. The showman is the archetype of the person who leads the audience into the realm of fantasy, directing the stage show which causes one to temporarily lose touch with reality and delve into the world of dreams, fantasy, and illusion.

Steven, no, I’m not the devil. The devil is a huge concept. I am merely a humble showman. I bring you glittering little moments of pleasure which brighten your otherwise dreary and monotonous life.

Again, for me, this is Neil Gaiman at his best, blending the boundaries between reality and dark fantasy, creating a space where nightmares slowly creep into our waking world. The next issue should include the Grand Finale and I must admit that I have high expectations. Check back in a day or so for my thoughts on the final act.

Click here to read my review of Book I.

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“Dagon” by H.P. Lovecraft: The Surfacing of the Subconscious Mind

DagonA while back I picked up an anthology of stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Last night, I decided to read one before going to sleep. I opted for Dagon, only because it was short and I was already a little tired. Unfortunately, it took me a little while to fall asleep after I finished reading the tale.

The story is about a man who is addicted to morphine and considering suicide because he is no longer able to deal with the memories of something he experienced as a sailor years back. He was adrift and came to a place where the ocean floor had risen to the surface and exposed dark and hideous things, among them a giant creature from the depths. These images haunted him since.

I immediately interpreted this story as an allegory for the dark recesses of the subconscious mind surfacing and driving a person into the realm of insanity. The boat on which he was adrift represents his mind in a state of isolation as he drifts through reality, until he reaches the point where the dark depths of his subconscious mind are forced to the surface, exposing the horrors that lay hidden below.

Though one might well imagine that my first sensation would be of wonder at so prodigious and unexpected a transformation of scenery, I was in reality more horrified than astonished; for there was in the air and in the rotting soil a sinister quality that chilled me to the core. The region was putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish, and of other less describable things which I saw protruding from the nasty mud of the unending plain. Perhaps I should not hope to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence and barren immensity.

As the protagonist recounts his tale, he recalls wandering the desolation until he comes to an obelisk engraved with carvings of strange fish-like creatures. He makes the connection that these creatures are symbolic of early man, possibly from the stage where life emerged from the ocean. These symbols, then, represent the earliest stages of our subconscious minds that are linked to our prehistoric selves which crawled from the ocean’s slime.

I think these things were supposed to depict men–at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatures were shewn disporting like fishes in the waters of some marine grotto, or paying homage to some monolithic shrine which appeared to be under the waves as well. Of their faces and forms I date not speak in detail; for the mere remembrance makes me grow faint.

He then questions whether everything he experienced was just fantasy, but concludes that it was real. He recognizes that within each human lies a dark subconscious, which at any moment may surface. Although he tries to bury this part of him through the use of drugs, he is unable to keep the dark side of himself from surfacing again, which drives him to the point where he sees suicide as the only escape.

Often I ask myself if it could not all have been a pure phantasm–a mere freak of fever as I lay sun-stricken and raving in the open boat after my escape from the German man-of-war. This I ask myself, but ever does there come before me a hideously vivid vision in reply. I cannot think of the deep sea without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and floundering on its slimy bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols and carving their own detestable likenesses on submarine obelisks of water-soaked granite. I dream of a day when they may rise above the billows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind–of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium.

It’s a pretty dark vision of the future of humanity and one that has haunted my thoughts on occasion. It is not difficult to envision a world where our baser instincts gain control over our reason, resulting in the collapse of humanity. I think the key, though, is to acknowledge that part of ourselves and be aware of it. It’s only through awareness and acceptance that we keep the mire below the surface and continue to progress as a society.

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