Man, you people are brutal. Talking about a horror comic after the break... CREEPY #8 Art by Colleen Coover, Kelley Jones, Rick Geary, Kyle Baker and Bernie Wrightson Written by Jeff Parker, Doug Moench, Rick Geary, Dan Braun and Bruce Jones Lettered by Colleen Coover, Nate Piekos of Blambot® and Rick Geary Frontispiece by Darick Robertson Cover by Richard Corben Dark Horse, $4.99 (2012)
Because I like telling you what you already know I'll start by saying this is the revival of CREEPY, a horror anthology that was originally published from 1964 to 1983 by Warren publishing. Dark Horse are currently reprinting those original issues in the form of expensive hardbacks and at least one story in each of the current incarnation’s issues acts as an advert for such. In this issue that story is Jenifer. Ah, Jenifer. But before we get to Jenifer first we must disinter the new contents provided by the creepy crew named and shamed above.
NINETEEN Drawn by Colleen Coover and written by Jeff Parker
Art by Colleen Coover with words by Jeff Parker.
Jeff Parker and Colleen Coover are both smart and talented artists. Parker having a deceptively simple style and Coover being less than shy about sexuality in her work on X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, sorry, her work for Eros. It’s hardly a twist ending then that the story they produce is a short, smart shocker which updates a psychosexual myth while also neatly exploiting the links between sex and guilt. It isn't remotely scary but it is cerebrally unsettling and rewards reflection. Given the themes and the nature of the mythical concept in question Nineteen is in roughly the same plot of the graveyard as Jenifer but the approach is less lurid and, thus, less striking. Ah, Jenifer. You’ll soon see how striking Jenifer is.
THE LURKING FATE THAT CAME TO LOVECRAFT PART 1 Drawn by Kelley Jones and written by Doug Moench
Art by Kelley Jones with words by Doug Moench.
Here Moench cunningly casts the spade faced master of prolix perversity and possibly racist undertones as his main character and thus, witting or un, provides himself with an opportunity for prose of the most Tyrian hues. An opportunity he doesn't so much seize as throttle until its eyes bug out and its bowels void. Which, as I say, is pretty fitting. Anyway, the man notable for lacking in the craft of love, so I hear, himself is finding his mind falling apart at an appalling rate as reality seems to be confusing itself with his own fictions. If you enjoyed Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness as much as I did (Did you? Really? Really.) you’ll enjoy the premise here. Moench’s long time collaborator Kelley Jones is just the right fit for this stuff as well, with his contortions of physique, viewpoint and architecture. Since we don’t have “gibbous” as a rating I’ll call this one GOOD! If I were to say that Jones’ art contains a lot of Wrightson then that wouldn't be a criticism, not considering the work Wrightson does on Jenifer. Ah, Jenifer. But we have yet to meet Jenifer.
THE MAUSOLEUM Drawn and written by Rick Geary
Art and words by Rick Geary.
By way of a continuing series of original graphic novels (A Treasury of Victorian Murder..., A Treasury of XXth century Murder…) Mr. Rick Geary has documented some of the lesser and greater known incidences of horror human beings have visited upon each other. Murders, I’m on about murders. Along the way he has developed a style which is seemingly non judgemental but through the implacable accumulation of facts becomes unmistakable in its moral disgust. Also, no one works straight lines harder than Rick Geary. Seriously, he’s murder on them. Sigh. Anyway all of the remarkable craft he applies to historical atrocity is here applied to a bitterly sweet tale of life and death and love and loss. It’s Rick Geary so it’s GOOD! Wait, can you hear her tread upon the step, her shadow through the glass; she's almost here. Jenifer approaches.
LOATHSOME LORE Art by Kyle Baker and written by Dan Braun
Kyle Baker draws over some photographs to good effect here, showing that drawing over photographs isn't intrinsically evil after all. As to the contents, if Dan Braun seriously expects me to believe Siouxsie And The Banshees ever horrified anyone except people allergic to large quantities of cosmetics on a confined face, he’s going to have to personally introduce me to them. This was CRAP! And now a rap-rap-rappin' at the door and we throw it wide to reveal...
JENIFER Drawn by Bernie Wrightson and written by Bruce Jones
Art by Bernie Wrightson with words by Bruce Jones.
Jenifer is written by Bruce Jo…wait, come back! I know, I know, Bruce Jones did the unforgivable; Bruce Jones wrote some bad super hero comics. Actually judging by the output of today’s superstars Bruce Jones’ real mistake was to write some bad super hero comics without first inveigling himself into the brain matter of fandom like some wayward tape worm. Before that though, before Bruce Jones (<choke!>, <gasp!>) wrote some bad super hero comics, Bruce Jones wrote some really, really good horror comics. Of which Jenifer is but one.
The big thing about Jenifer is that it is horrible. Bruce Jones doesn't shy away here he just goes for it. Bruce Jones goes there. Bruce Jones goes to that place where you start to doubt the sanity, or at least the decency and good taste of the author. And if decency and good taste have much to do with horror they don’t have to anything to do with this kind of horror. This horror is both visceral and cerebral. Oh, there’s gore galore here alright, but it’s the thoughts that count. Sometimes horror needs context and without that context you won’t understand why the next image is the one that sticks, why this simple panel is the one that tunnels in and nests:
Art by Bernie Wrightson with words by Bruce Jones.
Of course Jones isn't working alone here, he’s got an accomplice, better yet he’s got Bernie Wrightson. Wrightson’s art is essential to Jenifer’s success. All the things you think of when you think of Wrightson's overwrought art are here. So much so that it should be overwhelming. The figures are gnarled, tortured, hunched, looming doomed things inhabiting rooms lit like noir’s paying the bills and existing in a world of forced perspective and perplexing forces. It’s too rich, too much and it is overwhelming, it’s supposed to be overwhelming. Jones’ nervily helpless narration and Wrightson’s muddily grey washed series of tableaux (separated by the almost subliminal white flare of the gutters, the flare of a flash as he records photos of Hell and presses them into your eyes) punch a series of moments which roil with a lunatic heat right into your brain. Where they will probably remain until your body cools and sets with rigour. Oh yes, Jenifer is a very bad girl but Jenifer is VERY GOOD!
Overall this issue of CREEPY was VERY GOOD! This isn't always the case, previous issues have been somewhat, ahem, variable in quality. This one's worth picking up for Jenifer alone but the quality of the other stories should ensure you get your blood money's worth. Oh, and it's by no means a slight on the modern contents than Jenifer ranks highest, that's because when it comes to horror Jenifer is pretty rank stuff indeed. Heh. Heh. Heh. Enjoy, kiddies.
Until next week then, don't have nightmares; read about them in COMICS!!!