The difficulty that comic series face is not dissimilar to that of long running horror franchises. No one really wants to start with Freddie Vs Jason as a first pass (yes Ed…I can see that editors pen itching to write that no one wants to watch Freddie vs Jason anyway (Ed: no one wants to watch Freddie vs Jason anyway) but Nick and I like it), the characters and in-jokes are completely reliant on your familiarity from previous films. So you look and find there are ten Friday 13th films and seven A Nightmare on Elm Street films to get through to bring you up to date. I realise you don’t need to have seen all the films in those canons for that specific example, but you do need someone who has seen them to tell you about it or be willing to jump in two-footed and hope you catch on to what’s going on.
Ongoing comic series are no different, many of them have been running for a long time and so you either need someone with extensive knowledge who knows what they’re talking about or to get in at the beginning. Unfortunately I have don’t have extensive knowledge, but I am lucky enough to know someone very knowledgeable about comics. Similarly, I also know a place that is great at getting back orders and setting up postal subscriptions for new series. So whilst we’re all in Covid lockdown, this seems like the perfect time to share and hopefully introduce you to a new and wondrous horror format.
Earlier this year I rang my local comic book store, the excellent Chaos City Comics (support your local store, their expertise can’t be matched) and spoke to their resident expert and manager at the time, Luke Ridge. I’ve been receiving my comics in the post from Chaos City for years. They put me onto the fact that Grant Morrison was going to be doing Heavy Metal Magazine (no matter how short that tenure was going to be), set me up with a postal subscription for Saga (space opera of the highest order) and kept my details on order for when Shaolin Cowboy returns. This time when I rang I wanted my comics to be of the horror persuasion.
Matt: “Hi Luke, I’m looking to add to my subscription, something just starting, something horror”
Luke: “No problem Matt…. I don’t really know horror…. but how about these”
(For a guy that claims to not know horror I think you’ll find his aim very good)
So come with me now on a short collection of pieces where I'll share with you some ongoing (and a couple of concluded) comics horror series that you, you horror loving genius, might find enticing. You can probably get the first few issues of these titles on back order so you don’t have to jump in mid scare or you might be able to get a collected volume to bring you up to date. If these do tickle your fancy and you're reading this after the Covid restrictions end, head down to your local comic book store and see what they’d recommend. If we are all still stuck in doors then give your local comic book store a call and see if they do mail order, and if they don’t…well I’m not sure how far Chaos City go with mail order subscriptions if you’re outside the UK but I’m sure they’d appreciate your [+44172720838719]call…or tweet…or email. Sadly Luke isn’t there anymore, he’s off being an excellent illustrator (who's also well worth both a follow and a commission) but I’m sure he’d be the first to echo my sentiments, horror comics are awesome and well worth getting in touch with your local comic store about….OK, maybe he’d not say horror comics specifically, but I’m confident on the rest. Onto the first of our horror comics:
Vampires, ‘dead’ American Presidents, cops with parental issues, Philly. That’s all I needed to be sold on this image comic series from Rodney Barnes, Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT.
Jim Sangster Jr is our young cop, returning home to bury his legendary cop father. What Killadelphia does in a very short amount of time is give you a story about living in the shadows. The shadow of a revered but difficult father, the shadows of society, the shadows of the first president of the USA and of course just the plain old fashioned shadows. The characters are interesting, whilst familiar to anyone whose seen a family drama (maybe not Mr Aster’s family drama), and the illustration perfectly fits the tension between the characters and the darkness the city holds. I’ve not been to Philly, and my reference points for it are It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and now Killadelphia and whilst neither is painting the picture of a place as welcoming as Disney Land, they both tell me that this is a city that inspires.
Killadelphia doesn’t need it’s horror credentials laid out with a title like that, but even if it didn’t feature Vampires the illustration and the language of the narrator are dripping with horror references. A personal favourite of mine comes in issue #4 which uses unexpectedly blood soaked doors in the most gripping way I’ve seen since The Shining (although this made me chuckle a lot more).
There’s already a collected edition of the first six issues available, but that is relatively early in the life of a comic series and if, like me, you like the concept you’ve still got plenty of time to jump onboard.
So that's our first horror pick from the world of comics, and much like in the comics we love dearly we'll leave our story here TBC...
And with a little taste of what's to come...