Get ready to raise hell with Madam Satan in an epic Archie Horror one-shot arriving this October from the creative team of Eliot Rahal, Julius Ohta, Matt Herms, and Jack Morelli.
From the world of the hit series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes Madam Satan. The Queen of Hell has had enough playing second fiddle to the Devil himself and is ready to take matters into her own hands! Will Madam Satan prove herself to be the most powerful being of the Underworld? Find out in this terrifying one-shot tale!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Presents: Madam Satan #1 arrives in comic shops and digital platforms this October. Written by Eliot Rahal, the comic features art by Julius Ohta, Matt Herms, and Jack Morelli. It has a main cover by Ohta and a variant by Robert Hack.
Horror and Star Warsisn’t something one often hears uttered in the same sentence, although the pairing of the two isn’t entirely novel for the franchise. Disney Lucasfilm Press has announced its intentions to look beyond the dark side for a new YA horror anthology titled Star Wars: Dark Legends. The book is set for a July 28 release and will feature six terrifying tales written by George Mann with illustrations by Grant Griffin.
In an interview given to SYFY WIRE, Mann states that the six tales will read like campfire/bedtime cautionary tales complete with hauntings, transformations, and eerie Sith lords. The book’s scope covers the myths and legends of the Star Wars universe with details and ideas taken from the new Galaxy’s Edge attractions at Disneyland and Disney World.
It’s refreshing to see some much needed experimentation and playfulness afforded to the Star Wars brand. It’s only logical to the consider the possibility of horror lurking within such a rich expanded universe, especially when we’ve already had horror books set in it way before Disney acquired the franchise.
In the late 1990’s, publisher Bantam Spectra released twelve Star Wars horror books for young readers as part of a series called “Galaxy of Fear.” The books were written by John Whitman and they followed in the tradition of R.L. Stein’s iconic Goosebumps stories. These were short and fast reads set after the events of Star Wars Episode IV:A New Hope.
Cameos from Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Thrawn, and Boba Fett were not uncommon, but the stories had their own characters embarking on these dark adventures. Book 3, for instance, called “Planet Plague,” follows Tash, Zak, and Uncle Hoole as they visit the planet Gobindi to explore its ancient ruins. Tash is suddenly afflicted by a big and strange bump that’s threatening to come out of her arm. And then the bump grows bigger and bigger.
Book 6, titled “Ghost of the Jedi,” finds the trio on the planet Nespis 8. A haunted library is said to be found on the planet, one haunted by the ghost of a Jedi. Whether it’s as simple as that is a question the book answers in the only way a Star Wars horror book can.
The most impressive thing these books achieve lies in how organically they weave horror and Star Wars together. No book feels like it’s being force-fed elements of the supernatural or of gothic-style hauntings for the sake of a gimmick. They treat the license’s vast universe as fertile ground for scary things that feel like they belong there.
The next horror book to come out of the expanded universe came in 2009 and was called Star Wars: Death Troopers. Written by Joe Schreiber, the book deals in zombies and is set in a broken-down prison barge containing two very important prisoners that are synonymous with the franchise. It takes place before the events of A New Hope and it manages to propose a kind of framework for how horror can be integrated into the grander narrative. The book was well-received and paved the way for a prequel novel, by the same author, called Red Harvest (2010). The two books later came to be known as the “Virus Duology.”
The prequel explains the origin of the virus that turns the dead into the undead and looks at a Jedi that is particularly skilled with plant life. The book also features a Sith Master called Darth Scabrous that wants to harness the power of a special flower that can act as an ingredient for the deadly virus.
While Star Wars is no stranger to horror, its time with it has been relatively limited. The new “Dark Legends” anthology could be the catalyst that brings about a more robust offering of horror stories set in that galaxy far, far away. If the same pattern emerges, maybe we can hope for a new fully-fledged horror novel ready to bring fear into the hearts of readers and Jedi alike.
Basketful of Heads deserves to be mentioned along the same lines as Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Graveand Park Chan-wook’s Lady Vengeance, movies that flip the idea of revenge on its head. These films create characters that match male violence with a unique female resolve to return it in kind, and then some. Joe Hill and Leomacs’ story about a girl with a magical axe and the means to use it on corrupt and evil men does precisely that while also adding a thing or two to make the violence on display say more than it’s usually allowed to.
This seven-issue series, largely inspired by the aforementioned films plus a healthy dose of EC Horror comics, sets its aims on a cast of evil men that try to keep lead character June Branch from rescuing her boyfriend—a police officer named Liam that threatened to expose the corruption behind Brody Island’s own police force.
Issue #7 brings things to an already expected final showdown with the biggest and baddest cop of the bunch, but it does so with an unexpected twist. I won’t spoil it here, but Hill and Leomacs wade through lesser known waters to look at different kinds of evil and just how well they work in tandem even when they’re not directly related. Just how severely the men who succumb to these evils should be punished is a question that is answered as clear as an axe to the neck. It makes you think on what’s tolerable and what shouldn’t be.
That the final confrontation has echoes of Cape Fear in it and how it plays out also adds to the overarching sense of discovering new roads towards retribution that deal with the bad things we’ve yet tired of facing.
As has been the case throughout the entire run, Leomac’s art and Dave Stewart’s colors continue to bring out every ounce of 70s horror the story taps into to the forefront without letting those same elements overpower the narrative. There’s a sense of impending blood-letting that is carried by the colors that crescendos to the point of complete synchronicity with the unraveling of the story.
Letterer Deron Bennett continues to take advantage of every opportunity to give the SFX and the text a life of its own. Bennett does an amazing job of giving everything a very rhythmic and animated quality, with sounds bleeding into the background and speech bubbles threatening to burst with the violence behind some of its lines. Basketful of Heads had a team that understood the story and what it needed to shine.
If the first six issues didn’t make it clear enough, Hill’s script set out to make the story’s message crystal clear in its conclusion: bad men make the world a horrible place, and they’re good at it. The talking heads of evil men hound June almost constantly and each new male character that emerges into the story is always just shy of having a sign over his head reading “bad man about to get chopped.”
Much like the EC Horror comics of old, the message is spelled out without an ounce of subtlety in the process. While it’s an interesting message to keep exploring (being that it’s timeless, unfortunately), I did feel it tried way too hard to make sure everyone got it. It’s classically moralist—a true ‘good vs. evil’ story that’s comforting to have around when grey areas get too muddy—but by the final pages I was getting a bit impatient with it as I had got it from the first issue onward.
Fortunately, this doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment of Basketful of Heads. The final moments do a great job of bringing everything full circle and the twists and turns in this final issue do bring new things to the table in terms of who also deserves the axe but doesn’t always get it. It’s worthy of discussion and it invites a controversial opinion or two. I guess that’s the thing about stories with axes. No matter the cut, they always leave a bloody mess behind.
Story: Joe Hill Art: Leomacs Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Deron Bennett Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: Buy and read it to your axe
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
In February 2020, Scout Comicsannounced six new imprints. Black Caravan was one of them whose focus is to “explore the darker side of creator-owned comics, high-end art books, and collectibles. The horror imprint’s co-Publishers are Joseph Schmalke and Rich Woodall.
Now, we’ve got the first six new titles which will debut later this year.
BIGFOOT! El CHUPACABRA! The MOTHMAN! GHOSTS! The world may be growing smaller every day, but there are dark and terrible things still out there in the woods, shadowy corners full of mystery and dread. Who else are you going to send out to investigate? —- The Perhapanauts! by creators Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau.
Whispers of his return paralyze all in fear – Phantom Starkiller, the Cosmic Ghoul Warrior will unleash his inner darkness to carry out his master’s wishes, all while plotting his revenge; for he cannot stop his interstellar rampage until The Curse of the Cryptocrystalline Stone has been broken! An exciting new psychedelic space odyssey based on the wildly popular toy line by Killer Bootlegs, and Super7! Written by Killer Bootlegs featuring artwork from Joseph Schmalke.
THE ELECTRIC BLACK: THE BLACK CARAVAN
Before the Electric Black there was a traveling carnival of wonders, the Black Caravan. People flocked to its showed exhibitions to behold the weird inhabitants, as well as the forbidden, dark goods. All is not what it seems and what we think of as good and evil are brought into question. Written and illustrated by Joseph Schmalke and Rich Woodall.
PROVENANCE OF MADNESS
A collection of three stories set in the world that Lovecraft created, whilst referencing the writer’s most popular works. The collection also features a whole host of bonus artwork from a wide array of artists all keen to share their love for the things that should not be. Created and written by Kiyarn Taghan, artwork by Christian DiBari, and Colors by Simon Gough.
BROKEN SOULS BALLAD
A group of teenagers, all adopted, begin to discover they have dark and terrible powers, connected to the psychological distress and torture they endured in their early childhood. Written by Massimo Rosi, artwork by Lodovica Caregatti.
THE ELECTRIC BLACK PRESENTS
From the Chilling Pages of The Electric Black comes a new horror anthology series, centered on four of its most insidious characters. Brace your souls for these tales of cosmic horror, revenge, murder, and mayhem. Written by Joseph Schmalke and Rich Woodall. Featuring the artistic talents of Paul Pelletier, Walter Ostlie, Christian DiBari, and Karl Moline.
The idea of a cursed film evokes images of satanic creatures standing behind the camera, corrupting what’s captured on celluloid. It’s a kind of subgenre in its own right, a kind of supernatural conspiracy theory hub for fans that do not believe in coincidence when it comes to set fires, mysterious crew deaths, and filming disasters. Shudder’s new Cursed Films docuseries traverses this particular horror terrain, and it does it well, but thankfully not in ways I was expecting.
Cursed Films is a five-part documentary series focusing on five films widely considered to be cursed by horror fans, collectors, and even casual moviegoers, especially those that love to dig into the mythos behind productions marked by tragedy and controversy.
The cursed movies explored in the docuseries are The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Omen, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and The Crow. As of the time of this writing, only the first three films have been explored in the series.
Those expecting a gratuitous indulgence in the dark stories surrounding these films, and validation of popular beliefs, will not leave entirely satisfied. I say this as a good thing. Cursed Films is, surprisingly (to me, at least), a very serious deconstruction of horror myths, where fact and fiction are separated and then dissected to get at the root of why people like to think cursed movies exist.
The first episode dives straight into perhaps the most controversial movie of the bunch, The Exorcist. My personal favorite horror movie (traditionalist that I am, I guess), William Friedkin’s movie about a girl possessed by a demon has been mired in darkness since day one. People worried that the actual making of the film resulted in the legitimate summoning of Lucifer and his army of possession-hungry demons. Injuries sustained by actors during production and even unexplained set burnings seems to confirm all of this to eager followers of the happenings of The Exorcist’s initial release.
To tell you the truth, just writing the name of this movie down gives me chills, irrational though that may be. It’s the only movie that gets scarier with each viewing for me, and yet Cursed Films took me down a different path with it. It dedicated most of its runtime to explaining why people so aggressively associate the devil with the movie and why horror inspires audiences to pursue such dark trains of thought.
The show features psychologists, religious scholars, key production and cast members, and writers all mostly aligned within the idea that the only thing that can curse a movie is its audience. Psychological terms are conjured up to explain why fans gravitate towards curses to explain the mysteries of their favorite movies, all of which have perfectly plausible explanations (for the most part).
The Exorcist episode, for instance, debunks a lot of its myths by looking at the PR campaigns of a desperate movie studio hellbent on turning a profit while also looking at how some of the accidents in the workspace actually happened. It even includes talks on the impact of the work culture the movie’s director created during filming, which is well documented.
Perhaps the most potent and surgically precise look at a cursed film can be seen in the Poltergeist episode. Two deaths and rumors about the macabre nature of certain props have been circulated enough for some people to confirm the tragedies that accompany the franchise are the results of a curse, possibly originating from beyond the grave.
What Cursed Films does with this movie is nothing short of masterful, going from legend to legend in an attempt to dispel the “curse,” which for the series means proving no such thing exists. It looks at the psychological and supernatural value people put into objects and locations seen in popular films and how it translates into a whole tradition of people visiting fictional haunted places as if they’re actually haunted.
I’ve participated in this, although not under the impression the place I visited was really haunted. I once had the chance to drive close to where the Amityville house from the infamous 1979 Amityville Horror movie was located. The fact the movie was loosely based on “true events”—that have since then been disproved—made the opportunity all the more enticing, so I took it. I saw the house. People live there. I saw no ghosts walking around, not a single swarm of flies hovering over its windows, and no blood dripping from its walls. In fact, I saw other houses that looked almost the same neighboring it. So much for a place housing one of the gates of Hell.
I thought about this short trip to Amityville a lot while watching Cursed Films. The show’s deconstruction of what could be termed as magical-horror thinking made me rethink the entire experience. It’s interesting because even though I knew the house wasn’t haunted, I did feel unsettled. The power of the movie, and the story it’s based on, had definitely charged the place with a supernatural sensation that was hard to shake off. In the end though, it was just a house. For the few minutes I was there, the only thing haunting it was a curious horror fan holding up traffic to take in one of horror cinema’s most iconic locations. Watching Cursed Films, one can feel a lot like this, especially if you’re prone to give into urban legends.
Cursed Films aims at reminding people horror fiction is just that, fiction. And it needs that emphasis on fiction. In fact, the docuseries suggests these myths and legends do a disservice to the people behind the scares, the ones who work for a living to get a scream out of people in the movie theaters. It’s a meditation on the power of belief when it comes to the representation of evil in film. It wants us to consider that movies themselves don’t have to be haunted to become superior works of horror fiction. They can achieve that pretty well on their own, without the necessity of being cursed.
There’s something special about crossovers between non-superheroes comics. Usually, a Marvel or DC crossover comes with expectations of event-like conflicts and big action set-pieces. Creator-owned crossovers, on the other hand, tend to live and die by the strength of their characters and the culture they carry from their own comics. This is definitely the case with Outer Darkness/Chew #1, from John Layman, Afu Chan, and Rob Guillory, a coming together of sci-fi, horror, and comedy of epic proportions from two books that rival each other in terms of the sheer storytelling madness they produce.
The comic starts with the crew of the Charon (from Outer Darkness) engaging with a Cibulaxian alien ambassador that only engages in conversation over food. No external communicator can help in the situation and the chef responsible for comms meets a gleefully violent and premature end early on. The captain of the Charon, Captain Rigg, is then forced to resort to plan B: traveling in time to bring Tony Chu in, a Cibopath that can dive into the memories of the things he eats (from Chew).
Outer Darkness/Chew #1 requires prior knowledge of both series to fully appreciate. Writer John Layman, who wrote both series, basically says as much in his letter to the fans at the end of the issue, when he talks about how the book approaches the Chew parts of the book as a kind of coda to the original series (which ran for 60 issues from 2009-2016).
From the Outer Darkness side of the equation, an understanding of the concept is pretty much all you need, which is basically made up of bits from The Exorcist, Star Trek, and Event Horizon. Honestly, I would recommend reading both series as they are very good on their own and are well worth the price of admission. Maybe then come back to the crossover.
The story succeeds in making both the Chewverse and the Outer Darknessverse converge as if they were naturally meant to since their inception. It even makes it a point to recognize changes in how the characters look within the story once they crossover.
Rob Guillory, co-creator of Chew, illustrates his part of the story in the original style of the book with Afu Chan, co-creator of Outer Darkness, doing the same. When Tony Chu is brought aboard the Charon, Afu Chan takes over and the characters acknowledge the change in their looks. They are baffled by it, even.
It’s a bit of meta that builds up the crossover quite well and makes each character recognize the distance between their realities. Chew characters transition well under Chan’s pencils and they still seem like they are from another place, which adds to the clash of stories between the two universes.
Layman’s script does a good job of balancing both worlds, especially in terms of tone. Outer Darkness is a more serious tale than Chew and yet they each keep their identities intact throughout the issue. One’s humor doesn’t drown out the other’s horror. This is something that rarely manages to carry over in this type of story, but Layman pulls it off. Let’s see if it manages to sustain itself over the entire arc.
There’s a lot to like about Outer Darkness/Chew #1, especially for fans of the two series. In fact, I’d say that’s precisely the audience it’s seeking. New readers will probably struggle a bit to make everything click, but there’re still enough things going on in the story that anyone could latch onto and follow. There’s just a lot of fun to be had here, and the promise of more Cibopaths in space is always a good thing.
Script: John Layman Art:Rob Guillory and Afu Chan Story: 9Art: 10Overall: Buy and then read all of Chew
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
What people usually call ‘silent comics’ is often entirely the opposite. The absence of words, of text, does not automatically rob a comic of sound. In fact, it can bring other sounds to the forefront, making it even louder in the process. María Llovet’sLOUD is a perfect example of this, a comic that attacks every sense imaginable with minimal text but with all the sound it can muster.
LOUD plays out like a kind of living anthology of stories all taking place inside a music bar/strip club. These stories range from full erotica to horror, from romance to crime. One story sees two lovers flirting around the fact neither has forgotten their last sexual encounter from two years previous while another story looks at a potential hit job on a man with a seriously sinful sexual history. It even goes as far as to dabble in the supernatural to explore violence between certain guests that prefer blood over alcohol as their preferred beverage. And that’s on top of some of the other stories, which are driven by erotic pure erotic energy and raw emotion.
What’s interesting about the stories is that they’re not divided by chapter breaks, nor do we get individual story titles. Everything feels like it’s happening simultaneously, and it unfolds seamlessly. What does give each story its uniqueness is its ‘sound’ design.
Stories that take place in the strip club part of the bar are flooded with onomatopoeias sounding out musical beats and their accompanying dance moves. Whenever we see characters escaping into other parts of the bar looking to satiate their lust, for instance, we can expect them to create their own sounds. It’s expertly synchronized and well-orchestrated.
Llovet’s art style is perfectly suited for this type of story. Her characters, environments, and sound effects all feel dream-like in parts, hallucinatory in others. Colors bleed into each other, forcing the reader to be a more active participant in their interpretation of them. Action sequences, dance sequences, and sex scenes are all very lively and wonderfully kinetic. You really have no choice but to see it all in motion. It’s an impressive feat.
As stated earlier, the comic isn’t entirely textless. There are some dialogue exchanges but they never take up more than two or three panels. What’s there is carefully selected and minimal. Character development and story progression come less from this and more from the characters’ bodies themselves. Llovet showcases a masterful approach to body language, and it’s not just the face or the upper body or even the hand gestures. Each character is a story unto itself and it takes all their individual parts to move the narrative forward.
LOUD is a statement on visual storytelling, both in terms of erotica and on sound in comics. Few wordless comics manage to tell their stories with such intensity. It genuinely feels like Llovet created her own imaginary soundtrack for the book. There’s nothing quite like it out there. It quite literally demands to be seen and heard.
Story: María Llovet Art: María Llovet Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy and display!
Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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FantaCo has announced its return to comic shops this July with a focus on horror and three releases.
FantaCo began in July 1968 as an extension of a mail order company and comic shop. FantaCo was registered as a coproration in August 1978 with a store and combining the mail order company and publishing under one roof. That lead to FantaCon in 1979.
Primarily known for horror the publisher has worked with John Byrne, Frank Miller, Dave Cochran, Kevin Eastman, Michael Kaluta, Steve Bissette, Steve Niles, Clive Barker, George Romero, Dario Argento, Bernie Wrightson, Tom Savini, Forry Ackerman, Dennis Kitchen, Jeffrey Jones, Spain, Phil Seuling and many of the artists that they published for the first time have gone on to become very well-known, like Greg Capullo, Mike Dubisch and more.
The publisher never stopped publishing. Instead they focused on Kickstarters and selling comics and books through their website, Amazon, and more. Their return to store shelves is due to demand and they will be introducing their entire catalog to direct market retailers according to publisher Tom Skulan.
This July you’ll find:
The Monster Art of Basil Gogos
Hundreds of drawings, paintings, sketches by the “Famous Monster Artist of Filmland’” Basil Gogos, in a 200 page plus softcover. Produced in full color to give the artist’s work the depth and detail it deserves, this new book features a behind the scenes look into the art and techniques used by the legendary cover artist to create his iconic monster paintings. A great many images have never been published before.
Deep Red Vol 4 Number 1
Chas Balun’s “Gonzo-Gore Splatter mag” is back, featuring all new articles, photos, reviews and interviews with the bloodiest filmmakers, actors and artists. The original “Splat-Pack” are back, talking about new and old classic genre films and lost classics. Edited by ‘Bram Stoker award’ nominee and author of Xeorx Ferox, John Walter Szpunar, Deep Red is back and “here is blood in your eye,” for a new generation splatter fans.
The dark art work of five of today’s artists is featured in this ‘over-sized’ 11×17 portfolio sized book, including covers, pinups, and selected dark works by Marcelo Trom, Jim Whiting, Ahmed Raafat, Raymond Lowell, and Nate Osborne. DarkARTS presents each artist’s work as it was meant to be seen, in the original oversize.