Some fantastic comics

November 17, 2006 at 10:49 pm (Comics, Horror)

While at the NMC Regional Conference last week, I made friends with a fellow named Bryan who shared my interest for gothic horror-themed literature and comics. I mentioned at the time The Black Forest, one of the books that got my back into comics, and promised him I’d send him the link. Well, I got around to digging it up today, and discovered a wealth of other riches by the same group, of which I want to keep track.

The Black Forest is basically a 1950s B-horror movie with 2000-era action movie sensibilities thrown it. At its high points, it’s really incredible. The grayscale art is very evocative, the story is entertaining and the writing is tight and fast-paced. Only at one point could it really be described as creepy, however (the scene in the basement). Most of the time, it is more of an action movie in book form, perhaps like Van Helsing (which I didn’t see, but probably should to see if my impression of it is just). Although there are a lot of thriller-like cliffhangers and twists, the situations just aren’t scary. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but the type of horror that it would have been if it were creepier is exactly my type of horror, so I was a little disappointed. There were a few other weaknesses, as well, such as the apparent superfluousness (is that a word) of the main character and the attempt, like so many bad sci-fi movies, to apparently combine every possible monster movie villian into one story. Still, it is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it. The sequal, The Black Forest 2, was weaker, in my opinion. The younger hero does finally get a chance to make a positive difference in the plot, but he is still essentially too stupid for his own good. It isn’t really a story in its own right, I felt. It’s more a filler in between 1 and 3, setting the groundwork for the third story which will hopefully come out soon… I should mention that both volumes, as all volumes that these guys produce, had a lot of extras crammed in the back, so there’s added value right there.

The creative team behind The Black Forest has also produced a few other fantastic series, specifically The Wicked West and the Terry Sharp series, both of which are linked to from the Black Forest website. The Wicked West is a series about an apparently cursed cowboy who wanders the Old West, fighting supernatural monsters like vampires, etc. While it sounds corny, it is actually very well handled; the initial book is as much a sad, wistful piece as it is a horror-action story, and the horror element is very well handled. It’s easy to get a vampire infestation wrong, but they get it right! A very short follow-up appeared in The Black Forest 2, but I discovered on their website today that The Wicked West 2 has finally come out, and it’s apparently almost 200 pages long! It’s apparently an anthology of stories about this character by a number of authors and artists, and I’m really looking forward to picking it up.

The Terry Sharp series intrigues me just as much as The Wicked West, and is absolutely my thing, if such a concept could be squished down into book form. The series follows the adventures of the eponymous hero, 1960’s era British horror movie producer by day, suave and daring enemy of satanic cultists bent on taking over the British government by night! So far, just The Faceless has come out, but they are talking about Yellow as the next installment, so I hope it’s only a short while away. In addition, there were two shorts released in other books in the past, one called Ruses and Runes, the other Vengeance is Mine, that I’ll have to hunt down one of these days. Hopefully they’ll include them as extras with Yellow! Finally, as part of the promo campaign, they created a special Flash-animated web comic that played on Fangoria, and I’ve hunted down the link. Again, totally my sort of thing. The artist is different from the other two series, but the art is just perfect for this type of work. His use of black in some panels reminds me of Mignola a bit, and its loose, modern style (as opposed to the almost overdone pseudorealism of most mainstream comics today) is very appealing.

I’m very curious about their other book, The Living and the Dead, so I may check it out if I have the money. However, I need to get The Wicked West 2, so expect that the soonest.

1 Comment

  1. neil vokes said,

    Thanks,pal- Bob,Todd,Ade and i got quite a kick outta reading your blog-Bob stumbled on it by chance and passed it on to us-we appreciate your kind words-it’s always nice to get a pat on the back,but when a reader also “gets” what we were trying to do,it’s even more gratifying-if you can’t track down a copy of WICKED WEST 2,let me know…;o)

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