Comic Book Review – The Death of Sleep by Aleš Kot & Piotr Kowalski

The Death Of Sleep

The Death of Sleep is a new graphic novel by Aleš Kot (writer) and Piotr Kowalski (artist), based on the acclaimed videogame Bloodborne developed by FromSoftware. It is set in the Gothic city of Yharnam, which suffers from an endemic plague that turns its citizens into horrific beasts. A nameless Hunter (powerful people tasked with slaying these beasts) seeks something called “Paleblood” in order to transcend the Hunt and escape the nightmare that plagues Yharnam. The Hunter encounters a strange child whose blood runs pale, and believing them to be the key to their transcendence embarks upon a journey to escape the city once and for all.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Frankenstein by Junji Ito

Frankenstein Junji Ito

Frankenstein is the latest English translation of collected stories by horror manga artist and writer Junji Ito. The featured story of this collection is unsurprisingly an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the classic tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who discovers the secret to creating life. Putting his discovery to the test he stitches together a humanoid being of giant proportions and imbues it with life. It is only when the grotesque giant stirs with life that he realizes he was so obsessed with whether or could that he didn’t stop to consider if he should. Following this tale is a collection of episodic stories about a 14-year-old boy named Oshikiri who lives alone in a large, disorienting house and is constantly beset upon by supernatural experiences and otherworldly intrusions.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown

Ed the Happy Clown

Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown is one of my first real forays into alternative comics. The character and the strips within this book first appeared in the author’s initially self-published comic book Yummy Fur, where the story was serialized. For the most part the story follows Ed, a boyish-looking young man who likes to dress as a clown and bring joy to unwell children. This not what the story is about however, as Ed finds himself afflicted by one horrible, often bizarre, twist of fate after another. Focused more on what happens to Ed than how he deals with each obstacle, the story line includes pygmies infesting the city’s sewers, a man who cannot stop defecating, a vampire girl seeking revenge, miniature men from another dimension, and oh so much more.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

Yon & Mu

Master of Japanese horror manga Junji Ito presents a series of hissterical tales chronicling his real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner. Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know … his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow—Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends.

In the last year I’ve become quite familiar with Junji Ito’s body of work, as far as English releases go, but this is the first time I’ve read anything that he’s created outside of the horror genre. Cat Diary: Yon & Mu is a short and sweet read, each chapter a vignette chronicling the mishaps he faces becoming a cat owner. There really isn’t a plot to follow throughout the book, though J-kun (Ito) does have a sort of arc that he undergoes throughout. I’ve lauded him in the past for his ability as a horror writer, but this book taught me something new: Junji Ito can be really funny.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Gyo by Junji Ito

Gyo

Something is rotten in Okinawa… The floating smell of death hangs over the island. What is it? A strange, legged fish appears on the scene… So begins Tadashi and Kaori’s spiral into the horror and stench of the sea.

Gyo is a horror manga series by renowned writer and artist Junji Ito. It was originally published serially in the weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 2001 to 2002, before being collected into two volumes that were released the same year. The edition I’m reviewing is an English deluxe edition published in 2015, collecting the entire story into one hardcover along with two bonus short stories. It had been a while since I read any of the Ito books I’d picked up this year and it was nice to read one of his longer works again.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe

Summary

A Weyland-Yutani crew investigates an unmarked vessel in high orbit containing a team in cryogenic sleep, a ship in ruins, and parasitic monsters waiting to attack.

AliensDeadOrbit

Aliens: Dead Orbit is a newly released trade paperback (April 3, 2018), collecting all four issues of the miniseries of the same name. Story, art, and lettering are by James Stokoe. I’ve been a big Aliens fan for most of my life, so when I first heard buzz about this book over half a year ago I decided to jump on the opportunity to read another good story in the franchise when it became available. While there are a lot of comic books written about the Xenomorph—the fan name for the titular alien creatures featured within—this book is completely standalone. Though some prior experience with the franchise may help with understanding the context of some background details, this could be someone’s first experience with the franchise entirely.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito

Summary

A new collection of delightfully macabre tales from a master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

FragmentsOfHorror

Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito is, according to the afterword, the author’s return to drawing and writing horror after an eight-year hiatus. Going in I had heard the author himself considered the collection a little below par for him, as he had gotten rusty after almost a decade away from the genre. Nevertheless, I’ve really enjoyed Ito’s work that I’ve read thus far, so I was cautiously optimistic going into this book that the stories within would still be of a certain quality that I could enjoy.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Shiver by Junji Ito

Summary

This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delight of horror fans.

Shiver

Shortly after I finished reading Uzumaki in October (my first experience with Junji Ito’s work) I was excited to learn that a new collection entitled Shiver would be releasing in North America in December. I’d heard a lot about his short stories being particularly good and was eager to get some firsthand experience with them. He’s been a manga artist/writer for a long time, yet as far as I have seen there is only one other book published in English that collects any of them that is also easy and/or inexpensive to get a copy of. Options are limited for now, but this was a great place to start regardless.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Summary

Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

Uzumaki

Uzumaki is a horror manga (Japanese comic book) written and illustrated by Junji Ito. It was originally published serially in the weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1998 to 1999. The book I am reviewing is a hardcover omnibus edition that was published in 2013. While I read comic books pretty regularly, lately I tend to avoid reviewing them. After completing Uzumaki, however, I knew I was going to make an exception. Most other comic books I read are beholden or connected to storylines that come before them, as well as others happening simultaneously. This book, however, is self-contained, telling a complete story.Read More »

Mighty Thursday #21: House of Penance

House of Penance

By Peter J. Tomasi (Story & Words), Ian Bertram (Art), Dave Stewart (Colours); Dark Horse Comics; 2017

houseofpenancescan

Summary

A horrific story of a haunted house and one woman’s mission to wash away the blood curse of her husband’s invention from claiming her own life and soul.

This is a tale about guilt, ghosts, and guns…of how fortune brings misfortune, as a grim and determined woman oversees the construction of a house twenty-four hours a day for twenty years with the simple motto of keep busy building or get busy dying.Read More »