The cover of this anthology doesn’t do the best job of conveying the book’s contents. It reminds me of the cover of an angry electro album I listened to in high school. While plenty of the work in here is muscly “babes and monsters” artwork reminiscent of Heavy Metal–which is something I’m not particularly interested in reading–there mare also some quirky stories and plenty instances of the downright grotesque.
The list of contributors to this volume is a regular who’s-who of comic artists (or so I’m told). Indeed the opening selection, and one of the best story lines on offer here, is by comic patron saints Jacky Kirby and Joe Simon (the inspirations for Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay). It tells of a mysterious “angel of death” terrorizing a French village and the doctor who uncovers the angel’s true identity–a prehistoric predatory insect somehow preserved beneath the earth in the town’s outskirts.
I especially liked the entries with art a bit more on the quirky side, such as Andy Kuhn’s “Ira Gershwin: Monster Puncher,” which shares a similar premise to another tale in here, “Pair of Rogues,” by Ron Marz and Tom Raney. Both these tell of a human teaming up with a supernatural creature of some sort in order to con other humans out of money. Then are fun stories, and both feature some really interesting art.
My favorite piece in this anthology is “Little Monsters” by Ian Edginton and D’israeli. The art has a storybook feel to it, and the tale manages to be be at once whimsical and deeply disturbing, chronicling two young children’s transformation into evil beings. It’s the prologue to a longer book, Kingdom of the Wicked, which I’ve already ordered a copy of.
Indeed, this was a fun book to flip through, and more than anything it opened my eyes to more graphic novels and artists I want to explore. Once I finish Kingdom of the Wicked, I’ve got my sights sets on the Simon & Kirby sci-fi and horror collections advertised on the back pages of Massacre. If you’re on the hunt for some spooky comics as Halloween approaches, this anthology seems a pretty good place to start.