Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art: Giancarlo Caracuzzo & Paul Mounts
I have a love/hate relationship with horror, and most of what I know comes from movies. Part of me loves being scared by it, but too often I find it’s less scary and instead simply full of gore and put out for shock value. I do have a love for over the top cheesy horror as well, and old slasher, zombie and grindhouse films, but you won’t catch me anywhere near something like Saw 16 or 22 or whichever version of it is being pumped out this year.
I’ll be honest. I picked this book up because of the writers. I like most of what they do, and thought I’d give it a chance. The idea of a horror comic wasn’t one I was entirely on board with, but I thought at least it would be an interesting read. What I ended up with surprised and stunned me.
The premise of the story alone is great. Two fledgling comic creators (Todd and Ezra) have just finished Slasherman, their first comic. The comic features a serial murderer, Slasherman (see what they did there?) and his murders and how they transcend brutality to become art. The popularity of it astounds them, and as they travel to promote the comic, crime scenes and murders seem to follow them. These incidents relate back to fans of the book, and to what they’ve created in the character of Slasherman.
The book is extremely dense, 72 pages of story that never stops moving. It opens with a few pages from the Slasherman comic, and those pages were perhaps the most disturbing and yet breathtaking I’ve ever actually read. When they finish – and we’re transported to Todd’s apartment where his fiance has been reading those same pages – it’s actually a shock, and yet it’s the perfect introduction and opening.
One of the things that makes this book work is the believability of it. The two guys on their first comics promotions tour, the fans and other comics pros they run into*, the fact that a simple typo is the culprit in so much of what happens. Yes, there are gruesome murders, but where haven’t such murders happened, and likely for a lot less? Todd and Ezra are these two exceedingly normal, likable, interesting characters that Palmiotti and Gray develop well, and it makes the entire stroy that much more interesting. Amidst all of this is the humour that I’ve come to expect from them. Their dialogue can be funny, mundane, profound, and this isn’t any exception. There are moments where it almost feels like they’re mocking themselves and the industry, but in an entirely good-natured way.
The art and colouring are both amazing. I actually went back through the book, just flipping through the pages and admiring the shading or details of scenes. In fact, I may have done that a couple of times now.
Judgement? 5/5. It’s an interesting, unusual book and it’s bloody brilliant. Go, find it on amazon or at your LCS and buy it. It’s worth every penny you’ll spend.