Review: The Chair: Special Edition

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I didn’t hear about Alterna Press, and its titles, until I made a late jump onto Social Media a few months ago, where I caught buzz of The Chair. I tried to pick up a copy of the first issue re-release a few months back, but Midtown Comics didn’t have any in stock, so I ended up ordering it directly via eBay. It was a better deal, since I ended up with a signed copy from Peter Simeti (plus some extra goodies).

Since then the compelling, but threatening first chapter hooked me; and I’ve been waiting for the Special Edition Graphic Novel to be printed. From what I gather, this book has been floating around since some time in 2008, but original copies are hard to come by, and they can go for about $50-$100. Plus now that the movie is slated to likely premiere in 2016, prices have gone up. With the newer to be released special edition priced at $17.99 the choice to wait was easy. It’s a second print, but it includes the movie screenplay and bonus materials. Still this was supposed to be a limited run, and there was a good chance I might not get hold of a copy. Luckily I got mine at Midtown Comics (as of this writing I also see that there are still six copies available on Amazon). If you enjoy a raw and twisted psychological horror fest that pushes the limits on sanity and decency, then this one is for you.

Within its pages you will not find your standard comic book art. It is a dark confused black and white rendering reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s lithograph version of ‘The Scream’. Take a look below, and see if both don’t capture the distorted individual suffering of extreme existential anxiety.

This is not the muscular well define super hero art most of us are used to, but it’s appropriate for this tale.

Furthermore, the title bills itself as a psychological terror. Now, years ago, as a budding freshman psych major, I saw the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) film. For those of you unfamiliar with the SPE, a Stanford University professor conducted what was supposed to be a simple experiment, within a faux prison setting, with startling results. A group of college students were placed into two roles: that of prisoners and guards. The results were shocking, overtaking the Professor himself, who in a supervisory role allowed the abuse and torture of the ‘prisoners’ by the ‘guards’. Suffice to say that the experiment had to be aborted early for the safety and well being of all concerned. Within the context of this experimental film, the horror of monsters living within men is only too real; and today it is still a respected classical example on cognitive dissonance theory and the overreaching power of authority.

This book draws more than a pailful from the dark and twisted water well of this experiment. The story of Richard Sullivan–a self professed innocent man fighting for his sanity in his final days on Death Row amongst a criminally insane prison population and demonized behavior rationalizing prison guards–intensifies the gory violence between prisoner and warden to its unexpected psychologically disturbing conclusion.

Story: Peter Simeti Art: Peter Simeti and Kevin Christensen
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Alterna Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review, the reviewer PURCHASED his own copy.