The first things an artist learns to draw - that we all do (besides a straight line) - are squares, circles, and triangles. These are the basic building blocks we’re taught for cognitive functionality as a child. Which shapes fit together we figure out through trial and error. Like stories written on the walls of a cave, all of Mike Mignola’s creations start as a combination of various circles, squares, and triangles. Hellboy did, and Mignola breathed life into these shapes on pieces of paper, creating a modern-day myth the likes of which few have managed since the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient civilizations wrote of gods, Heaven, Hell, humanity, and the beings that lie somewhere in between. Hellboy is one of those beings with the desire of a man, but the fate of a god. If nothing else, Mignola is well studied in these areas and knew what the hell he was doing.
BOOM! Studios deserves a medal for the sheer risk involved in putting together a book as religiously niche and intellectually controversial as Judas. This collected volume takes us on an emotional rollercoaster that is as fast and loopy as the last time someone tried to actually preach a sermon to me. I would call the story “Biblical Fiction;” however, you might call it something else entirely based on your own set of religious entanglements. Judas, the villain of the scriptures, turns out to be the ripest of narrative apples hanging from the Bible tree. You might say, in a world where dullness is the highest form of treachery, Judas does NOT betray YOU.
Eugenic is presented in three separate horror stories told across time, starting with the literal end of the human race as we know it. The book is chock-full of hot takes that range from Twilight Zone-esque to full-tilt campiness. It is scary. It is brutal. There are concepts and images in Eugenic that will make your hair stand straight up and excuse itself from your head. Most of the moments in the book feel earned, though some of them feel a bit scattered; however, this is the kind of comic book we need - one that has something to say.
If you enjoyed the unsettling deep dive into Allister Ward’s presumed psychosis that was Knight in the Snake Pit #1, the second installment is sure to please you. Allister remains trapped between the dark world of the asylum and the fantastic quest—complete with a king, a dragon, fellow knights, and an unnamed, yet harrowing, enemy-- that invades his reality, with no further clues to aid him in deciphering between reality and fantasy (Read: psychosis.) than he is left with at the end of volume one. The plot, nevertheless, progresses; the stakes are raised right off the bat when Allister is left to take the fall for several dead bodies, and all of the various sides that seem to be wrestling for both his body and his mind approach him with an added urgency. To make matters worse, it seems that the question of trust is muddied on all sides; Allister must learn who he can trust, but also prove that he is trustworthy, all with a limited grasp of his world and an inability to ground himself fully in either space.
Herman Melville’s 1851 classic and epic novel, Moby Dick, painstakingly details the whaling industry alongside the sea travels of an ill-fated crew. The white whale is a formidable source of intrigue and motivation whose sheer existence incites a dangerous journey into the deep. Even if you have not trucked your way through the massive novel, you know that Moby Dick is a destructive force whose massive size illustrates how small man is and how hard it is to combat an animal who rules the sea. Moby Dick: Back from the Deep’s creator and writer Matt Schorr uses Melville’s tale and its legacy as inspiration for another intense adventure, where the white whale rules the sea, and no one is safe.
Tommy Redolfi has found inspiration paralleling the children’s fable, Little Red Riding Hood, with one of the most famous, popular, and tragic Hollywood stories of all time: Norma Jeane Baker's (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe) life. Without any flourishes, Norma’s story is a heartbreaking tale of a woman who gave her soul and more to be loved and who was abused by an industry willing to take advantage of beauty - to treat women like an object and to dehumanize for a few bucks. By approaching it like, what is essentially a David Lynchian meets David McKean-style horror story, Redolfi has given readers a transcendent, hypnotic, and emotionally devastating exploration of the terrifying side of Hollywood stardom and, in doing so, has crafted a very human story of abuse endured…with a smile. One of the most famous smiles of the silver screen.
In 2015 I reviewed the first two issues of Monster Matador, an independent comic about a bullfighter turned monster slayer in a post-apocalyptic world which introduced Ramon as the titular matador. Now, after a lengthy hiatus, the creator has produced a trade paperback and a sixth single issue is on the horizon to continue the story of a brave man with little other than a bullfighting sword, a cape, and immense faith in the divine to aid him in protecting humanity from the creatures that threaten it.