Tag Archives: Ray Bradbury

Afterlife with Archie: Issue #8

AfterlifeArchie_08

This graphic series never ceases to impress me. The writing and artwork are both so outstanding that I’m kind of shocked at just how great it is. It is nothing short of graphic horror at its finest.

In this episode, the survivors from Riverdale are holed up at the Bradbury Hotel in Vermont (a nod to Ray Bradbury?). Much of the installment features Archie sitting at the hotel bar, conversing with the ghost of Jughead. It is a clear allusion to The Shining. In fact, this issue is full of references to classic horror films and books, as well as to psychological novels like Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness which explore the darker realms of the human psyche.

I cannot stress enough just how good the writing is in this graphic novel. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa weaves a tale as masterfully as anyone. I literally found myself hanging on every word. But the real genius is the way the story is structured. We have the beginning, where Archie converses with the “ghost” of Jughead, which in reality is Archie creating a separate entity out of his own psyche with which to talk out his internal conflicts and fears. The story then transitions into reality, where Archie is guided by his mother back into the presence of the others. The episode climaxes with a blending of the psychological and the physical, expressed through actual events interspersed with snippets of thought and memory. It is so well-crafted, I am inspired to read it again as I write these words.

This series is so good and works on so many levels, I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you are not a fan of graphic horror, because the craftsmanship of the writing and artwork are both so strong. If you’ve read any of this series, please feel free to share your thoughts.

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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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