Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: Alex Ronald, Chris Connelly, Colin Bell, Cult Empire Comics, George Lennox, James Devlin, Jason Mathis, Norrie Millar, The Lakes
Having stepped into the small press spotlight with Vietnam Zombie Holocaust (reviewed here) Cult Empire Comics follows that up with their second title Horror Show.
Writer George Lennox writes all three stories in this issue and with a firm Tales from the Crypt vibe in them all they gradually increase the gore and sinister edges as the title progresses.
First up is A Late Night in Royston with art & colours by Chris Connelly and lettering by Colin Bell. It’s a shorty, punchy opener as a night on the pull shows promise but ends in a grim, visceral end for two Glasgow boys. Quick character & situation setup by George lets Chris spill the blood across the pages as soon as things turn sour and add a creepy final panel in there to make sure we’re setup for the next two stories. The art is kept fairly simple and the colours do alot of the work as it sweeps us up in the moments of panic and impending doom that’s on it’s way.
Lost Souls with art, colours and lettering by Jason Mathis sees us joining Amy in her latest counselling session as she explains the strange visions she sees of dead girls carrying their “Did you see?” signs. Smart work form Jason sees Amy remain the focus across some fairly dark pages as she appears in scenes with her pink t-shirt and this helps build that feeling of alone and truly scared that you can see in her eyes. If anything, I think this second story is my favourite as it has that real feeling of horror as the blood is kept to a minimum and it’s a case of what you don’t see and how you imagine that space between panels that marks it’s dark edges. It makes that “To Be Continued?” that appears on the last panel all the more satisfying as you’re left hanging with those thoughts.
Partyman with art by Norrie Millar, colours by James Devlin & lettering by Colin Bell brings us the main story and it’s one about a party at a local flat where that guy turns up….you know the one. The attention-seeking, annoying asshole who just rubs everyone the wrong way…..so in typical house party style…..the other guests take their chance to push him out that multi-story window…..we’ve all thought about doing that too I bet. Cue a deal with the devil and our unwanted party guest is back at the door and ready to pay his debt to the devil by sending him more souls – think Spawn with a suit & bowtie. Strange thing with this one was that I ended up on Partyman’s side…..so I don’t know where my head is after this one but there is at least the tease that “Partyman will return in Bachelor Party” so we haven’t seen the last of this surprising anti-hero. Norrie’s art is solid on this as his detail in the scenes and interesting panels of death mix well with Devlin’s smart colours, mainly red as the story progresses to build that gore/horror vibe into George’s third tale.
A good start for the title although given the issue itself is a 28 page release trying to get three stories into it brings with it a feeling of things being over just as they’ve begun, particularly on those shorter tales. That being said there’s still enough intrigue in each to make them interesting and keep turning those pages. One thing that has to be mentioned is that cover by Alex Ronald…..it’s a DOOZY and it initially sets that artistic bar high for the contents to match it, something that many other titles push from the bigger publishers with their variants & big name artists but that can take away from the work poured into the pages by the other artists. It kind of does a bit here but the combo of writing/artist on the three different stories manages to pull it off I’d say and this works as it embraces that “cult B-movie” feeling to it.
Worth a read for sure and one to look out for when it debuts at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival on the 17th-19th October. If you can’t make it though you can pick up a copy over at the Cult Empire website.
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