‘Aleister Arcane:’ Trade Paperback Review

He stares at you with a wide, ghoulish smile, bold red spectacles, and long, white hair so bright it matches the lightning strikes surrounding him. Aleister Arcane is brought to life with a larger-than-life title character leering over top of a spooky looking house and a horde of morbid monsters staring dead ahead. The light beaming from the many windows of the haunted house matches the same piercing glow of each tentacled or horned creature coming for you.

Artist Sam Shearon creates the creepy cover page for this trade paperback, and the more you look, the more you realize how much more is hidden at first glance. The first few images are easy to see: Aleister, the house, and quite a number of monsters. There is also a swarm of bats flying around, but look a little closer. At the bottom of this page, there’s a mist covering those that continue to stare. It’s when you look back again that you see it. How many more eyes are actually drifting through the fog?

The artwork from Shearon wills you to turn the page to avoid their glares, even from those that don’t appear to have any eyes. This illustration sets the tone wonderfully for writer Steve Niles, one familiar with “Tales of Terror.” Niles has created a number of tales oriented around the grim and horrifying, gaining popularity to adapt to different mediums. 30 Days of Night, originally a three-issue run in 2002, was brought to the big screen in 2007. He even had his Criminal Macabre transformed into an animated short.

In this story, weatherman Aleister Green spends years performing a unique weathercast on Halloween. He becomes Aleister Arcane on these days and also the host of the channel’s horror film fest. His love of all things grotesque doesn’t go unnoticed. He receives an offer from his hometown to host a late-night horror show. Aleister’s enthusiasm earns him the popularity that attracted his new dream job, but things do not go as he expected once he arrives home.

The imagery throughout is incorporated into varying sized panels, with different vantage points to enhance particular moments. Artist Breehn Burns crafts Aleister and all of those in his life with similar color patterns throughout. Somewhat subtle tones spread across the pages allowing more vibrant colors to be even more noticeable. Burns’ ability to enhance colors by further defining shadows is a technique perfectly suited for this story – that and his terrifying creatures that come alive right before your eyes.

In addition to the three parts in this series, the trade paperback also includes a sketchbook showcasing what Burns initially created leading up to the final draft. His drawings, combined with a unique story and how it’s told, give readers a reason to turn one page after another. Niles presents what seems to be the conclusion at the very beginning; however, it only turns out to be the opening act in a fright-filled night. Not only has Niles and Burns turned three comic books into a classic, it’s been reported earlier in 2016 that this series will be another Niles’ project adapted to film, with actor Jim Carey and filmmaker Eli Roth slated to team up.

The Aleister Arcane trade paperback is currently available for pre-order.

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