Golgotha TPB (2013 – 215 Ink)

Golgotha

This review is done in conjunction with Graphic Policy

I remember the first time I saw Trainspotting. I was a bit to young and naive to really understand what was going on. No one I knew had ever done drugs, and with the exception of very few people I still don’t know anyone that has done anything as strong as heroin.  All I remember about the first time that I watched Trainspotting is that everything was jarring and disorienting.  The things that they would see, the feelings that the drug, or lack there of would illicit, though often played for laughs, seemed sinister and dark to me.  They weren’t in control of themselves, the drug was.  To me that is just as valid and frightening of a possession as The Exorcist.  That lack of control is real life horror to me.

Golgotha has that disconcerting feel to it, because this book is all about a bunch of junkies.  Aleister is an outsider artist, and a addict, and the start of this book finds him on his way to state mandated rehab.  If he is able to complete the program he will be given a free pass on his prison sentence.  Things are going just fine (if a little boring) when he discovers that the grave of his literary (and hometown) hero H. P. Lovecraft has been desecrated.  He calls his friend Jude to see if there is any more to the story than what the newspaper is saying, only to find out that the vandals stole HPL’s skull.  Aleister will not stand for it, and breaks out of rehab that night.  So begins his adventure in finding a skull a midst a slew of junkies.

There is a whole crew of them too, his friend Jude, Brazilian guys that dress as Vampires, a gang of British punk rockers, a former love interest, his dealer/hang around buddies Shawgrim and Grimshaw, and Crazy Henry.  The people in this book are solid characters, each with depth and personality, but in a crazy way they just fade in and out of the story like ghosts.  When they arrive they serve a purpose, and when that purpose is over they move on.  Some live through the ordeal, some don’t, because the hunt for Lovecraft’s skull turns out to be a little more contentious than Aleister thought.

Dark things that dwell in the shadows of Providence seem out to get them.  People turn into creatures who want to consume and devour, huge creatures that can flip over a car.  Alister even treks into the sewers and finds a coven of Deep Ones worshiping at the feet of Cthulhu’s idol.  Even with such strange things happening seemingly to all of them; no one will buy that Aleister is seeing what he says he sees.  Because all their thoughts are colored by the drug.

Deep Ones, monsters, magic powers bestowed by the skull, all of it may be in a world of imagination.  All of these things might be hallucinations.  We the readers never know.  Writer Andrew Harrison leaves that up to you the reader.  Is this a world populated by the characters of HPL’s stories, or is it just the ravings of a junkie trying to get clean and failing once again.  So much of the interplay in this book is about the drugs, the relationships that it has ruined and created in ruins.  The art then punctuates it with splattery edges and crazy looking people, from Karl Slominski.  The best illustrated is Crazy Henry, a schizophrenic whose thoughts are literally spilling out of his head every time he speaks.

This is a really interesting, and in some ways haunting book (I actually had some pretty crazy dreams the night that I read this).  The monstrous horror is mixed with the horrors of real life in a very creative way.  This is Trainspotting done by Howard Phillips Lovecraft.  This is the tale of the junkie through the eyes of gods that dwell deep with in the ocean or claw at the night sky to once again subjugate us.  This is a deep dark rabbit hole of a book, HPL would be proud.

Next Time: Abe Sapien Dark and Terrible #1

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Cthulhu Tales #2 (April – 2008 – Boom!)

Cthulhu Tales #2

I often wonder what H.P, Lovecraft would think of his cult status in the world of horror.  I wonder if it would please or irritate him knowing that so many people not only love his works, but love to created within the worlds that he invented.  I wonder if it would surprise him to know that books, movies, games, and even music have been created reflecting the ideas that he came up with.  I like to think that it would please him, but in some ways HPL seems like the kind of misanthrope that would be more put off by his semi-famous nature.  There is no way that he wouldn’t think it was pretty neat that his name became an adjective.

Speaking of Lovecraftian, the second issue of Cthulhu Tales delivers on the Lovecraftian chillers with another issue of three stunning stories of the dread God in full “colour.”  Like so many other anthology style horror books the tales are short and to the point.  Unlike many other anthology books there aren’t as many redeeming lessons to be learned at the end of each tale.  Instead there are people that go mad, make deals with dark gods, and are consumed by corpses.

The first tale written by Steve Niles, and art by Shane Oakly is called “The Hiding Place.” Done all in black and white with some yellow and gray-scale highlights this is the tale of a man who evade the police by committing suicide, and the cop that had been hunting him for years.  When at the coroner’s table a not to the officer is found inside the body things get really strange, and the officer learns a little more about the Elder Gods than he probably would have wanted to.  This is a good little creeper that takes it self a little more seriously than the other stories have in this title so far.

Next up is “Katrina” written by Eric Calderon, with art by Jon Schnepp.  There was something so visceral about the footage of New Orleans right after Katrina hit.  All those neighborhoods up to their roofs in water, people sitting stranded on top of their houses.  Just that image alone was dark and foreboding, add to that mix that something may be lurking in all that water and you have a whole different level of menace.  A con is on work detail helping to clean up after the hurricane finds a book with the words, “READ! For the sake of us all!” scrawled on the front.  Needless to say he starts reading the tale of the creatures that came out of the waters of Katrina and something takes over.

The graphic art style of this story makes for a very interesting look to the creatures that are invading our world.  Everything in the tale had a precise and distinct look about it, except for the Cuthuloids, who seem almost sketchy in their blobby wet glory.  Really effective visuals in this particular tale.

Finally, “How To Get Ahead in the Occult,” written by Christine Boylan and art by Chee, is my favorite story in the issue.  Two college roommates are headed out for the evening at the behest of the the shrewish Dara who wants only for her magic powers to be great.  They head out to the local Campus Crusade for Cthulhu and Dara is disappointed to find that it is just another excuse to have a party.  They do some chanting and thank Cthulhu for another day, and then get back to drinking all to the great pleasure of Ellie.

Later that night Ellie awakes in a fugue state chanting the invocation of Cthulhu.  All Dara can think to do is take her to the sea.  At the coast the great old one rises from his sleep and offers Dara a choice, save her friend or all the magic power she has ever wanted.  For Dara the choice is obvious.

I’m so glad that I found these guys in the dollar bin at my local comic shop, because so far all of the issues of Cthulhu Tales have been great.  If you are looking for some good thrills and chills on the cheap, these can all be attained for very little and are well worth the time.  I’m sure it would make HPL proud

Next Time:  Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities TPB

Cthulhu Tales #1 (March – 2008 – Boom!)

Cthulhu Tales #1

Cthulhu Tales #1

Oh the joy of the Lovecraftian genre of books and comics.  The legacy of H.P. Lovecraft and his weird tale brand of horror/science fiction has been a real pleasure to put in my brain over the course of my life.  The Cthulhu Mythos seems to also have been a boon to literature and comics.  The grip of comics that reference the Mythos is staggering in size, execution, and level of entertainment.  A a whole the Cthulhu Mythos genre can be rather hit or miss, so this was a nice discovery in the dollar comics pile at my local comic books shop.  Using the anthology style of comics the Cthulhu Mythos comes to life in three stories in this first issue of Cthulhu tales.

First up is “The Eyes of Madness,” penned by Steve Niles with art by Chee the tale is of a priest who comes into contact with a man who claims to see the hidden reality behind the world.  The strange man denies the faith the priest espouses and in turn angers the congregation that the priest serves.  Angers them to the point of riling them up into a lynch mob.  The man confronts the priest, literally pulling his own eyes out, and reveals to the priest that if he casts those eyes into the air after the man dies, that the priest will see as he sees.  Naturally the priest casts the eyes into the air, and the sights that he sees drive him to a lethal crisis of faith.  It is a gruesome and creepy story that is fleshed out by a dark yet vivid art style that bursts off of the page like any great color horror comic should.

“The Farm,” has a more neutral color palate to it.  Kids sneaking onto a body farm are all illustrated by Sunder Raj in grays and browns, giving a look that implies sneaking about at dusk.  In a very Stand by Me kind of scenario the kids are on the body farm so they can check out a dead body.  Instead they are being stalked by something that doesn’t want them on the Property.  It isn’t a man, or the cops though, it is a creature, and soon it has the kids trapped.  Luck for them a cop with a shotgun is there to gun down the creature and the kids bolt.  Leaving them with a tale to tell their grand kids about the time they escaped a monster.

Finally, “Exactly the Right Word,” tells a tale of sports fanaticism gone evil.  A little ditty from Tom Peyer, with the same darkly lurid art of Chee that is featured in the first story.  A group of guys are fanatics that perform the same good luck rituals to keep their team winning.  Soon the ritual turns to something more, when forces beyond their control find a way to usurp them.  It is a short short piece but done well.  A great little chiller.

These kind of anthology comics are great, like mix tapes they give you a taste of several artists and writers, while keeping them all inside the same mythology.  This went from dollar comic bin, straight to my heart, and I picked up the full run.  Can’t wait to read them all.

Next Time: Eerie #2