Summer is upon us, and nothing helps to beat the heat like settling in the shade with a good read.
A recent trip to a popular comic book convention demonstrated just how popular ‘funny books’ still are, and – more importantly – exactly how strong the horror-based comic is at the moment. From graphic novel adaptations of popular literature and film stories to original tales of dread, there hasn’t been a more exciting time for comic fans of the scary stuff since the silver age of horror at DC and Marvel, when titles like ‘House of Mystery’ and ‘Tomb of Dracula’ had us peddling our banana bikes to the corner store every week with our dimes clutched tightly in our fists! Horror and monster themes have always had a firm footing in comics, but with comic-based film and television properties being all the rage these days, it comes as no surprise that creators are making the most of the situation and delivering the gruesome goods in ample supply. It would be difficult at best to list every available title, so here’s a small sampling of what lies in wait for the creepy comic fan. Er…I mean, fans of creepy comics.
One of the most exciting – and looooooong overdue – discoveries was the continuation of Bernie Wrightson’s ‘Frankenstein’ work by he and ’30 Days of Night’ writer Steve Niles. Bernie’s brilliant, near-inhumanly detailed work on the title in the ’70s has become THE definitive interpretation on the oft-misunderstood creature, considered by many to be the finest work of his career to date. Every bit as breathtaking today as it was upon its initial release, fans were treated to a gorgeous hardcover rerelease of the title a few years ago by Dark Horse Comics, resulting in renewed interest in Wrightson’s take on the misshapen monstrosity. Now, he and Niles have teamed up again to imagine the events which may have taken place after the end of Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic masterpiece. Released by IDW Publishing, ‘Frankenstein Alive, Alive!’ proves why Wrightson is the REAL Master of Macabre, showcasing his incredible attention to detail by taking the brute from desolate wastelands to carnival sideshows in his existential journey of discovery. ‘Frankenstein Alive, Alive!’ is both a welcome sequel to a seminal classic and a fantastic first glance for younger readers not yet acquainted with the original work.
Another great announcement is the upcoming hardcover release of Jeremy Bastian’s ‘Cursed Pirate Girl’ collected edition from Archaia. A surreal tale in the fashion of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Pirate Girl’ takes the title character from the comfort of her real world to the treacherous Omerta Seas in search of her true place and family after being visited by her father in dreams. Rife with garish creatures and bizarre characters, ‘Cursed Pirate Girl’ looks and reads as if it were actually produced in the period in which it is set. Bastian’s weathered pages and detailed ink work, along with his vintage-style hand lettering, makes for a trippy, whimsical journey for the reader, who could become lost for hours in the intricately illustrated pages of this unique blend of horror, fantasy, adventure and self-discovery.
Dark Horse Comics continues to release its beautiful hardcover reprints of the classic Warren ‘Creepy’ and ‘Eeerie’ stories, giving readers an opportunity to collect the definitive versions of these beloved mini-masterpieces. Featuring top-notch work by the likes of Jack Davis, Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, Richard Corben and a virtual ‘who’s who’ of comic book legends, ‘Creepy’ and ‘Eerie’ hold up wonderfully after their original release close to fifty years ago, proving that real fear is both timeless and universal.
For those who enjoy a bit of genuine humor in their horror, Eric Powell’s ‘The Goon’ is still going strong. Consistently one of the most rewarding reads on the stands today, Powell’s writing and illustration are nothing short of exceptional as he details the adventures of a hulking, scarred mob enforcer and his diminutive hot-headed sidekick Franky and the unusual mix of characters they encounter. Zombies, barkeeps, werewolves, lounge singers, robots, gangsters, cats with human faces, bog monsters and giant spiders are just a few of the oddities that populate the world of The Goon – each with a personality that endears them to readers like family. Freaky, frightening, duplicitous family, but family nonetheless.
Of course, ‘The Walking Dead’ continues to dominate the comic racks, with graphic novels, games, action figures and more feeding the frenzy of fans both new and old. AMC’s critically-acclaimed series has spawned a sizable audience for the award-winning source material by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, and a wide variety of trade paperback, hardcover and omnibus collections are currently available.
With the launch of DC Comics’ New 52 line, many favorite dark titles have re-emerged, and several new titles have been introduced. ‘Swamp Thing’ (co-created by the previously mentioned Bernie Wrightson), ‘Deadman’, “Red Lanterns’, ‘I, Vampire’, and ‘Justice League, Dark’ have all been well-received by fans and critics alike, with many titles going into multiple printings. Fans of DC’s classic horror and Vertigo titles will find this new lineup appealing.
There hasn’t been a better time to enjoy the darker side of comics in quite some time. If you’re interested in finding what the spinner racks hold in store for horror and supernatural comic readers, here is a brief rundown of some good reads:
Turf War – gangsters vs. vampires vs. aliens in the Age of Prohibition
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – the title says it all
Sandman Absolute Editions – complete oversized slipcased volumes reprinting the fantastic Neil Gaiman series, detailing the troubled saga of the Lord of Dreams
Army of Darkness – the comic book adventures of Ash, everyone’s favorite chainsaw-wielding anti-hero
Ghostbusters – who ya gonna read?
Green Wake – odd occurrences surrounding a series of mysterious murders
Locke & Key – detailing a family’s ordeals in the town of Lovecraft, Massachusetts
’68 – a Vietnam War zombie epic
Hack/Slash – once-victimized Cassie strikes back at monsters of all kinds, with the help of her gas mask-toting sidekick Vlad
American Vampire – just darn good storytelling
Your local comic shop staff can help you track down books in the horror vein, as each week delivers a brand new batch, so don’t hesitate to give them a try! And be prepared to pull the covers up over your head and read by flashlight…
Motionless In White touring Netherworld Haunted House!
Before the night is through – I want to do bad things with you…
HBO’s monster hit “True Blood” returns to Dragon*Con this summer, with appearances by series creator Charlaine Harris and stars Kristin Bauer, Denis O’Hare, Jim Parrack, and Joe Manganiello.
Based on Harris’ “Dead Until Dark” novels, “True Blood” revolves around Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic Louisiana barmaid and friend to vampires, werewolves, and various other odd creatures. The series, currently in its fourth season, airs Sunday evenings on HBO. Visit the official website at hbo.com/true-blood
Dragon*Con’s Dark Fantasy track will present panel programming spotlighting this cult phenomenon.
NETHERWORLD Haunted House is a proud sponsor of the Dragon*Con Dark Fantasy track.
Please visit us at our Dragon*Con booth, September 2-5, 2011, located on the Marquis level of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. We’ll have plenty of surprises and fun going on all weekend, and you can find us featured in the Dragon*Con parade Saturday morning. www.fearworld.com
Monday, bloody Monday
Sorry this one’s running late, folks. I finally managed to free myself from the freezer and slip away…
Poor Jason Stackhouse! Something’s eating at him. Literally! Suffering from the discomfort of his slow transformation to pantherhood, Jason is still strapped to the bed in preparation of his role in repopulating the panther people race. Crystal expresses her love and longing to be with him forever as she tends to his post-panther feeding frenzy.
Eric, still devoid of any memory of his past after his confrontation with the witches, attacks Sookie when the lure of fairie blood becomes too strong. Sookie is able to calm him down, and reluctantly offers to help him provided he doesn’t bite her. Arriving at her house, she invites him in, concealing the fact that he actually owns the home. Pam races to Sookie’s house and is shocked to see the timid Eric. She urges Sookie to hide Eric from Bill, as she believes Bill sent him to the coven’s meeting in hopes of getting him killed. The always resourceful Ms. Stackhouse demands compensation in exchange for babysitting. She’ll need the extra money to keep buying those Charlaine Harris hardcovers we spied her reading this week…
Lafayette, meanwhile, tries unsuccessfully to convince the wiccans to forget all about Eric’s attack, explaining that he is an ancient and powerful vamp who could cause them tremendous harm. When this fails, he resolves to go to Eric himself and ask forgiveness, much to the dismay or Jesus and Tara, who asks Sookie to implore Bill to protect her cousin from Eric’s wrath. Jesus and Tara agree to keep an eye on Lafayette and prevent him placing himself in danger of further torture at Eric’s hands. However, as Tara and Sam reunite over shots, Lafayette sneaks away. Later, he is attacked by Pam, who threatens revenge on anyone who would make a move against her maker. Tara and Jesus come to his rescue, and are given 48 hours by Pam to deliver the witch responsible for Eric’s predicament under penalty of death from feeding (and something else I can’t mention – this is a family blog!).
Jessica is distressed to find Hoyt holding her doll when she returns from feeding on a human at Fangtasia. Seems the pesky little thing has a habit of popping back up, no matter what she does to get rid of it. Taking Bill’s advice, she confesses her transgression to Hoyt, who is angered and attempts to leave. Jessica glams him into forgetting, as she cannot bear the thought of hurting him. Should the role of Hoyt ever become available for recast, I call dibs on being first in line for the part of the lovely Jessica’s love interest…. she later passes her doll onto Arlene’s future-serial killer baby, who we now know has a penchant for dismembering toys.
Bill delivers justice on an unfortunate vampire who is captured feeding on film by members of Vamp-Kill.com, an anti-vampire group. This violates vampire law, and Bill orders his death. The newly-appointed vampire king of Louisiana is propositioned and enters into a relationship with a human woman who is – gasp! – not Sookie.
We find Andy reaching out to the missing Jason as his withdrawal from V, leading him to a violent confrontation with Sam.
Sookie visits LC in Shreveport, and is shocked to find Debbie living with him, now clean and sober. She asks him to help her hide Eric. He offers to stash him in one of the empty homes in the subdivision he has built.
Tommy poses as Maxine’s son when a gentleman comes calling to offer a sales contract for rights to natural gas on the property. He confides in Sam, inviting him to help Tommy buy the house out from under her and cash in on the gas. Sam implores Tommy to tell her the truth and let her enjoy the benefits of the sale, enraging Tommy who lashes out at his brother yet again. Isn’t it about time that Sam just kicks this kid’s ass one last time?
Jason awakes to find Crystal leading a long line of eager future-panther-mothers awaiting their turn to continue their bloodline. Poor guy…
Finally, Eric feeds on Sookie’s fairie godmother, killing her in the process (fortunately, gorgeous fairie women kind of explode when they die, since they revert to their grotesque form upon dying and no one wants to leave an ugly corpse). If next week’s sneak peek is any indication, the lure of fairie blood may become too strong for Eric to resist as we witness him biting Sookie!
After three strong episodes, HBO’s monster hit gives no hint of slowing down this season. Brainless Eric, king Bill, slowly devoured Jason, a much hotter Tara (and her equally hot girlfriend), the exceptionally hottest Jessica, on-the-edge Andy, powerhouse bitch Pam and freaky fairies all add up to more surprises, shocks, and laugh-out-loud humor than ever. Almost makes me forget that whole season two vibrating bull woman thing.
Monday, bloody Monday
The July 4th holiday put me a day behind, but if you’re a true True Blood fan, you probably didn’t wait until this past Sunday evening to watch, like I did, but instead grabbed an early viewing on HBO GO. Patience, my friends, is still considered a virtue…
This week’s episode opened to find poor Jason tied to a bed, after being trapped in a freezer last week. Seems that Crystal wants to have a panther baby with him, but that requires Jason actually becoming a panther first. Which, apparently, requires a fair amount of panthers feeding on him first. Ouch!
Sookie is desperate to rid herself of Eric, who offers her protection from other vampires who may wish to feed on her fairie blood. She turns to Bill (who is preoccupied with Katarina, a witch working on the inside with the coven on Bill’s behalf), and asks that he force Eric to give her back the house and release her. She even pleads with Pam, who assures Sookie that she could do far worse than surrendering to Eric. She did, aftter all, get a new screen door and a microwave out of it.
Pam, in the meantime, has her hands full with protestors outside Fangtasia. Hoyt, in response to some unkind name-calling directed at the delicious Jessica (c’mon – she IS delicious), finds himself on the receiving end of a nasty beating from the fists of the angry mob. Later, when Jessica attempts to speed up his recovery with a taste of her (delicious, I would imagine) blood, Hoyt recoils, insulting her and sending her back to Fangtasia to seduce a local fangbanger. She is caught in the act by Sookie, who offers her friendship in assistance for overcoming the bloodlust, only to be told to mind her own business and leave Jessica alone. Seems Jessica still harbours some ill feelings toward Sookie for her apparent abandonment of Bill, while she was actually trapped in the fairie realm.
Speaking of the mysterious Bill Compton, we are treated to a couple of surprise reveals this week, regarding his past. Tromping around the 1980s in his best British-punk-rock-vampire-Spike impersonation (yeah, I invoked the holy Buffy reference – sue me), Bill is approached by Nan Flanagan (the always entertaining Jessica Tuck, who I believe may actually be part vampire in real life – I’ve been enjoying her since before many True Blood fans were even born) on behalf of the building Vampire League. She is in need of spies and enlists Bill, who surprises her with his refusal to kill his victims after feeding. Not, of course, before revealing that none other than Louis Pasteur is perfecting a new synthetic blood substitute… We also learn that it was with Nan’s help that Bill ordered the murder of Sophie Ann at the hands of humans, placing him in a prime spot to be crowned king of the Louisiana vamps. I’m kinda digging badass Bill!
Arlene is still having considerable difficulty trusting her baby, and suffers an unusual reaction to him while speaking with Sookie. Those serial killers are just so darn cute when they’re little!
Sam attempts to get closer to the lovely Luna, who is initially scared off by his flirting only to reappear at the bar with plans to seduce him. She decides to allow Sam closer and kisses him, and later confides in him and the other shifters about her life and why she is so guarded. Sam discovers Tommy spying on them, in perfect health, and gives chase to his troublesome brother. Tommy confesses that he wants to be more of a real brother to Sam, and they agree to start working toward that goal. Hmmm.
Tara reunites with Sookie and Lafayette, and joins Lafayette upon his return to visit the coven. It is here that Marnie reveals her desire to raise a human body from the dead. Bill, realizing that the witches’ control over the dead could make vampires easy prey, dispatches Eric to deal with the Wiccan clan. Eric arrives during the coven’s meeting, and menacingly warns them away from their magical practice, attacking Tara in the process. The group forms a circle, and Marnie manages to strike fear in Eric, who turns and flees. Later, we find him wandering aimlessly along the road as Sookie pulls up in her car, only to discover that he has no memory of her. He does, however, pick up an appetizing scent from the hapless barmaid – fairie blood!
HBO still succeeeds in packing a whole lot of story into an hour, while leaving us thirsting for more True Blood. A sneek peek at next week’s episode show’s Jason – who was almost rescued by the V-addicted Andy this week while searching for a fix – on the receiving end of some pretty horrific cat-nibbling. Check back next MONDAY for another recap!
Several NETHERWORLD Haunted House monsters were recently seen on the red carpet at a special midnight screening of the first episode of this seasons TRUE BLOOD! Lord Goulich was out on the town with two of his brides when he ran into a Lycanthrope and several of Merlottes staff members…Chaos ensued!
Photos by: www.kellyblackmon.com
For More Pictures : NETHERWORLD/True Blood Pictures
True Blood Season Open Recap -SPOILERS!
Monday, bloody Monday…
“True Blood” returned with a bite last night, as HBO’s smash hit opened its fourth highly-anticipated season. Picking up a far jump from where it left off at the end of season three, “True Blood” delivered more of the offbeat humor and surprise twists it has become known for.
We begin by finding Sookie in the fairie land, where everyone is (usually) beautiful and has their very own fairie godmother (regardless of sex, apparently). It is here that Sookie runs into her beloved grandfather (the always fun-to-watch Gary Cole), who – although disappearing twenty years earlier – hasn’t aged a bit and has no concept of the time that has elapsed. It is soon revealed that this particular brand of fairie is a far cry from Tinkerbell’s clan, hideous and hellbent on harvesting humans. Sookie and her grandfather make a run for it, and with the help of some good(?) fairies, return to the mortal world. Unfortunately, time quickly catches up with gramps and he is reduced to ash before her eyes after passing his pocket watch on to Jason (good thing – it proves to be the only thing able to convince Jason where she’s been).
Soon we learn that although feeling like she was gone for about fifteen minutes, Sookie has been missing from reality for a little over a year. Much has changed in her absence, not the least of which is that Bill has been accused of killing her! The tortured love of Sookie’s life shows up to accept the blame for her disappearance (in exchange for a full clearing of his name in her alleged murder). He is followed close behind by Eric, who claims to be the only one in town who never gave up on her, in addition to looking a bit like Bill’s lapdog now. Guess that must be due to the fact that Bill is now the King of Louisiana’s vamps, leading us to deduce that his cliffhanger battle with the Queen ended in his favor…
Tara has fled to New Orleans, where she is getting by as a cage fighter (about time they put that ripped body into action!) and has found a new (hot hot hot!) partner, while Lafayette reluctantly finds himself involved with a group of witches, who sense great magic in him. One of the group manages to channel the late Eddie, who delivers a rose to him, much to his dismay. Through Lafayette they manage to (briefly) resurrect a bird, leaving us to wonder just how powerful he may be. Still by far my favorite character on the show, Lafayette breaks the news to Sookie that Tara has moved away, promising (half-heartedly) to tell Tara she’s back the next time he talks to her. His text to Tara to announce Sookie’s return elicits no response from her…
Andy is now hooked on V (as if he needed more reason to be wound too tight); Hoyt and Jessica (did I mention how HOT this girl is?!!!) are trying to make the most of domestic (un)life, but Pam notices a bit of building unrest in the lovely redheaded vamp; baby Mikey (half serial killer by birth) is beheading Barbies; the PR train is in full steam as the vampire nation tries to regain the trust of humanity; Sam, a bit bitter after recent events, is a memeber of some bizare shape shifter social club, where he can cut loose animal-style with his people; we learn that Eric is the proud new owner of Sookie’s house, more or less owning her as well; and Jason is now locked in a freezer by the same people he has been assisting…business as usual, I suppose.
Serving as a fine springboard for what looks to be like another amazing run of “True Blood” (looks like Eric’s fate may be in Bill’s hands now, as a sneek peek of upcoming episodes shows him in a rather grim position), last night’s episode was a nice welcome back and a great reminder why this show is a must-see each week. Although tempted to take advantage of HBO GO’s advance debut of next week’s episode, I’ve opted to wait until Sunday night to saok it in. There aren’t enough rituals left in life – I’m keeping this one alive. Or dead. Or undead? Hmmm…
The wait is almost over, kids. This Sunday evening, HBO’s monster (pun intended) hit “True Blood” returns for a highly anticipated fourth season. The series, based on Charlaine Harris’ “Dead Untl Dark” novels, tells the story of barmaid Sookie Stackhouse and her relationships with human, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, fairies and more. A far cry from the “team Edward/team Jacob” melodrama of that other supernatural phenomenon, “True Blood” goes for the throat. Literally and figuratively.
Chock full of sexy actors, over the top action, charmingly dark humor and cliffhangers galore, “True Blood” is not your father’s horror tale. Unless your father has come to expect the unexpected in HBO’s constant delivery of unique and diverse original series that take chances and leave you hungry for more.
At the end of season three, things have heated up to their usual finale climax. Bill, in an effort to rid the world of continued threats to his beloved Sookie, betrays Eric and encases him in cement, to suffer through immortality unable to move or feed. Yet Eric manages to return, only to reveal to Sookie that Bill has played her all along – that he was sent to retrieve Sookie for the Queen. The plucky barmaid banishes Bill from her home, and this leads to a violent confrontation between Bill and the Queen, where we are left hanging. Literally (well, actually THEY are left hanging, in midair, prepared to fight to the death).
This season, the Netherworld Network is your one-stop spot to catch up on weekly episodes. Be sure to check in each Monday for a weekly recap of the previous night’s show, and a teaser of the upcoming week. Learn more about “True Blood” and find plenty of extras at the official website hbo.com/true-blood Past episodes of “True Blood” are available at HBO On Demand.
Catch a sneak peek at season four now at http://www.hbo.com/true-blood/index.html#/true-blood/about/video/season-4-8-minute-sneak-peek.html
If you’re like me, you frequently ask yourself that age-old question – the one that that has lingered on everyone’s mind for generations – “What if Quentin Tarantino had worked for Universal Studios in the golden age of horror films?”.
The very concept is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Well, wonder no longer, because the answer lies in the colorful pages of Dan Brereton’s comic book tour de force “Nocturnals”. Part film noir, part mafia drama, part monster mash-up, and ALL fun-as-hell, “Nocturnals” is an amalgam of everything cool and hip and scary and suspenseful and wicked and funny, as told through Brereton’s gorgeous painted artwork and sharp, Rat-Pack-with-fangs dialogue
“Nocturnals” is one of those clever concepts that makes you scratch your head and say “why didn’t I come up with that?”. In this enjoyable series of dark adventures, we come face to face with one of the finest line-ups of personalities ever laid down in print. Doc Horror and his charming young daughter Evening (also known as Halloween Girl) lead a misfit band of beasts and beauties in defending California – and the world at large – against supernatural threats. Teeth bared and guns blazing, the Nocs charge face-first where angels AND demons fear to tread. Whether it’s the west coast mob or earth-conquering creatures from another dimension, Doc, Evening, Polychrome, Firelion, Starfish, the Raccoon, the Gunwitch (the scariest silly-hat-wearing sonuvabitch you’ll ever meet) and Evening’s band of mystical toys-come-to-life unleash a monstrous dose of whoop-ass on any and all danger. It is this stellar roster of characters that sets “Nocturnals” apart from typical graphic novel fare. Each and every personality in this world is infused with qualities that make you want to learn more about them. There is a genuine feeling of family among these unlikely heroes, not only between the characters themselves, but between us (the readers) and this fierce band of brothers and sisters in arms.
Originally released in 1995 in comic book form, and followed up with sporadic sequels, the entire run of “Nocturnals” tales is now available in a series of stylish hardcover collections. Ripe with cleverly-written stories and blockbuster movie-quality action sequences, “Nocturnals” is solid enjoyment from cover to cover. So light a candle, turn on some classic Blue Oyster Cult, pour a tall glass of your favorite elixir, and spend some time with the most lovable set of rogues you’ll meet this side of the grave…