Originally published at Fangoria.com on Sept. 4, 2010
SO BUTTONS PRESENTS: SO HORROR-BLE, from Alchemy Comix, is a quirky collection of short stories covering paranoia, night-walkers and the zombie apocalypse. Equally scary and funny, these fast-paced tales of terror are surefire bits of entertainment.
The first entry, “In Need of a Hand,” delivers out-of-the-ordinary insights about the parallels between relationships and decomposition. At a diner, the narrator recounts his recent road trip to Santa Barbara. His lovely relationship with Lara starts out wonderful until they end up at a sunny beach, where events take a drastic turn for the worst. When they stumble upon a dead body lying on the shore, mistrust and tension kick in to the max. The decaying carcass brings out the worst in the two lovebirds, who accuse each other of ruining their romance.
In the second entry, “In the Old Fashioned Way,” a dismayed reporter analyzes the recent phenomenon of vampires demanding equal civil rights. Why are the bloodsuckers perceived as heroes in this universe? Because the unwanted dregs of society are seen as a solution to their food intake. The reporter must decide if he should expose the conspiracy or become a hated enemy to the vampire clan.
The best of the collection, “In the Head, Please!” is a unique twist on the zombie genre. Insanity has just taken command of Morty’s mind. Past memories are clashing with the present ones, distorting his perception—this is what happens when someone becomes undead. The victim loses control of their body, but the mind is still alive, helplessly watching as their walking corpse feeds on others.
The last tale is the hilarious “In the Heat of Battle,” which is recommended for movie enthusiasts. In this story, a homeless bum is playing chess with a slow-thinking zombie. While playing, the vagrant, who also happens to be a film fanatic, debates the winners of the 2010 Academy Awards. This guy incessantly discusses each film, from THE HURT LOCKER to THE BLIND SIDE, while the ghoul struggles to move his chess pieces.
The cover, by artist Danny Hellman, is a spot-on and colorful homage to EC Comics. The mishmash of artwork inside ranges from cartoonish, by T.J. Kirsch, to hyperrealism, by David Beyer Jr. Each narrative sprang from the talented mind of Jonathan Baylis, who was an associate editor at Topps Comics—and some of them, especially “In the Head, Please!” have enough potential to be expanded into features.
SO HORROR-BLE is a fun-filled anthology that will leave you wanting more, its variety of approaches delivering both shocks and laughs. This comic will officially premiere at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD the weekend of September 10-12; you can also pre-order it from the official website.