“Every page is another revelation . . . a fantastically enjoyable ride . . .”
Horror comic fans rejoice!
Just in time for Christmas comes the hardcover edition of Ragemoor from Dark Horse. Described by author Jan Strnad as “as a Poe-esque, Lovecraftian gothic horror tale written by Jane Austen and directed by Roger Corman.” I have never read a more spot-on description of a book.
Mr. Strnad teams up with his Mutant World collaborator, longtime staple of the horror comic scene artist Richard Corben, to bring us a gothic horror tale for the 21st century.
In Northern Europe, a tumble down castle is hell-bent on securing its inhabitants and securing its inhabitants an heir. What transpires is a spiraling journey into madness, murder, and despair as Master Herbert West (lots of Lovecraft nods here), discovers that not only is his home staffed by chitinous cooks and maids, but also protected by skull-faced baboons that will stop at nothing to defend their home from every possible threat.
As Master West discovers Ragemoor’s dark secrets, the grip on his sanity begins to slip and we realize that we are riding along with a madman and must submit to the journey. Every page is another revelation that drives the story around the next bend, culminating in a fantastically enjoyable ride that leaves no loose threads.
Unlike many modern mystery tales, Jan Strnad’s story leaves little lacking. Plot hooks are never casually dropped to molder in the readers’ mind; there is an explanation for everything. This is particularly important for an audience that has grown increasingly wary and cynical of multiple plot lines that are never resolved, right “Lost” fans?
The tone of many characters is one of being lost in the fog of madness, and you can never truly be positive if one is still dancing on the edge of sanity/insanity or if they have already slipped.
Richard Corben’s artwork shows a new audience why he was inducted in to the Eisner Hall of Fame this past Summer. For over four decades, Mr. Corben has scared the bejesus out of readers with his iconic Creepy and Eerie comic tales and tantalized many a young mind with his Heavy Metal work. He has revolutionized the use of airbrush in his color comics and is considered a master by such luminaries as H. R. Giger, Moebius, and Jose Villarubia.
The choice to produce this volume in black and white rather than color only augments the menacing tale. His use of shadows and tone give the images a depth and fullness that many full color comics can only aspire to. Gore and horror are never downplayed, and the linework allows you to make out every gory detail. Mr. Corben’s work is never detached, and you are only drawn further into the shadows- frightened of what may be lurking.
A great read, and a must for horror fans, Ragemoor shows that the horror genre can be revitalized with a satisfying story and a master behind the inkwell.