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Review: Bloodrayne – Twin Blade June 29, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews.
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Writer: Steve O’Connell
Artist: Steve Scott
Review: David Zuzelo

BloodRayne is one of those videogame characters that seems custom tailored to comics with leather corsets, big arm swords and busty babes beating vampires bloody… and indeed the comic series from Digital Webbing rolls on with Twin Blades. Set in the early 1930’s, this one-shot covers the origin of Rayne’s distinctive weaponry.
While scuttling about and eating wolves she meets a man that knows of her special talents right away (of course), and he proceeds to tell her the story of The Brimstone Society and his place in it as “Agent Wraith.” They get attacked by a big monster, Rayne uses the blades… and that’s the end. Not exactly plot heavy or character oriented, it’s fun T n’ A n’ G(ore) with monsters and splattery swordplay. The results of the Bloodrayne franchise have been mixed with DW/Echo 3’s comics and Uwe Boll’s movie finding varying degrees of success and failure and Twin Blades, while decent looking, doesn’t pack much at all for the reader to gnaw on. So, the script can be summarized as a little back story filler on The Brimstone Society and not much else. Steve Scott’s artwork is good and the inks by Stacie Ponder add depth, but I have to say that when you have a story that builds to one battle I would appreciate a slightly better monster design than a guy that looks like he escaped from a Chaos comics backup tale.
Also, the fight sequences are clunky speed affairs, which isn’t really to my taste. BloodRayne film director Uwe Boll realised that it would be hard to pick those swords up and just start chopping, and it would have made sense to show something similar here instead of our heroine just hacking away.
This one shot contains a lot of “making of” material that is better than the finished product, and anyone that enjoys the story behind the panels will like this section of the book. Considering the price tag and the fact there is only 21 pages of story, this was a smart bonus to include.
A little flash and not enough substance, but not so bad that I won’t give the publishers another shot on the character. Twin Blades is a quick time filler that leaves me thirsty for a real story and character development that equals the cool look of this particular vampiric bad girl. On the upside, the forthcoming Plague of Dreams is going to be a three issue series from the creators of the best of the one shots, Lycan Rex. You can check out a preview of Plague of Dreams here.

Ratings: (Out of 5)
Art: 3
Story: 2
Chills: 1
Overall: 2

Interview: Kody Chamberlain – Tag June 27, 2006

Posted by HC in Independant, Interviews.
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HorrorComics.co.uk caught up with Kody Chamberlain, artist on Boom! Studios’ TAG to talk about the book and his work.

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Can you tell us a little about Tag
Tag is a 3 issue miniseries from BOOM! Studios written by Keith Giffen and art by me. It’s a horror story about a curse that gets passed from person to person.

The official blurb compares Tag to The Ring? In what ways is it similar?
I think it’s mostly about the tone and the style. It’s creepy, there’s a bit of a mystery that needs solving. The characters aren’t just dealing with the horror of what’s happening, they’re also dealing with their relationship. The candle is lit at both ends.

Were there any scenes that gave you chills even when you were drawing them?
I really like the scene where our main character gets tagged. I had a blast drawing that one and it was the one scene where I knew exactly what I was going to draw just from reading the script. There was just an energy about that scene and then the flashbacks that followed that really inspired me.

Did you get this gig after your stint on 30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales?
I do think the Bloodsucker Tales work helped land the project. But I had also done a page of art for Fear the Dead: A Zombie Survivor’s Journal. It’s a book filled with incredible zombie art by some of the best in the business. I was honored to be asked to contribute and that was my first experience working with the gang at BOOM! Studios.

How did you find working with Steve Niles on 30 Days?
Steve is an incredibly creative guy. He’s got an encyclopedic mind when it comes to horror. I was a fan of the original 30 Days of Night miniseries long before I had ever met him, so it was a real treat to get to work with him on the book. And since that was the first horror work I had ever done, it was a real learning experience for me. Because of the nature of Ben Templesmith’s work before me, being so progressive, there was already a lot of experimenting going on in the book and I felt that it was ok to try new things and play with the style and coloring a little more than I might on a more traditional book. I really had a blast working on the book and I picked up a lot of techniques along the way.

Did you always want to be a horror comic artist?
I’d say so. Horror and crime specifically. When it comes to reading comics, I’m a fan of almost everything and every style. I have a very broad sense of what I like as a reader. But when it comes to drawing, I do prefer the darker side of art.

Who is your greatest inspiration when it comes to comics?
I have a very large list of inspirations and it seems to grow every week. I think if I had to choose a few of the top creators I always come back to, they would be Will Eisner, Mike Mignola, John Buscema and Frank Miller. I pull out their work constantly and discover something new every time.

Horror comics are going through resurgence at the moment. Why do you think this is?
I think the shadow of the Comics Code is finally starting to lift from the industry and fans are starting to accept other genres into the mainstream of comics. I think the superhero dominance of the industry is really harmful because it tends to limit the scope of what’s expected from the medium. For many years, there was no distinction between genre and medium. That makes it hard for non-superhero books to find an audience, and it makes it hard for fans to find something they might enjoy. But I think that’s starting to change and we’re at the early stages of a comic book renaissance. We’re starting to see true mainstream genres like crime, horror, romance, westerns, drama, fantasy, and others growing in popularity and I think that’s the real key to a healthy industry. Diversification.

What can we expect next from you?

I’m working with Joshua Fialkov on a book called Punks and we’ve been shopping that around a little, and we’re finally starting to see some progress on that. It’s really a special book for us and finding the right home for it is important. The basic concept is to do a punk comic in the collage style of punk rock flyers. I’m actually using traditional cut and paste to make the pages, nothing but an x-acto blade and a glue stick. No drawing involved. It’s very experimental and very cool. I’m also working on a crime noir project I can’t really say too much about right now. We’re still working out all the details on that one, but I’m really excited about it. Hopefully we’ll be able to announce it at Comic-Con International in San Diego. A few other things are at various stages of development, but probably a year or so away.

If someone was to turn Tag into a movie, who would you cast as Mitch?
Giffen describes Mitch as an ‘everyman’ and that’s what I think of when I’m drawing him. The actor would have to have that look about him. Just off the cuff, someone like Edward Norton (Fight Club, Rounders) or maybe Giovanni Ribisi (Boiler Room, Saving Private Ryan). He can’t be a pretty boy, and he can’t be extremely heroic. He’s got to be an Everyman, someone we can all relate to.

If you could Tag anyone in the world to share Mitch’s curse who would it be?
I think I’d tag Steve Niles, because I know he would really enjoy it.

Thanks to Kody for his time. Be sure to check out his website here!

Review: Zombies! Feast #1 June 24, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews, IDW.
2 comments

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Writer: Shane McCarthy

Artist: Chris Bolton

Reviewer: David Zuzelo

Zombies! Feast starts up a promising new series for IDW, containing sharp artwork by Chris Bolton that keeps the blood and viscera flowing well from panel to panel while being pushed along by fast paced script from Shane McCarthy. During a routine prisoner transport for Federal Marshal Cooke and his crew of officers things take a Silent Hill turn as radio signals fail and they crash their bus in a storm. It probably doesn’t help that they are transporting what appear to be a batch of VERY mean men in prison jumpsuits looking for a way out of their own predicaments. I guess we know they are mean because they curse a lot and one is a Nazi wannabee who will no-doubt get in the Marshal’s face. Taking cover in an abandoned farmhouse where they meet a grotesque little zombie girl (whoa, George Romero, take a bow) the stage is set for blunt force trauma to lots of undead skulls as well as buckets of interpersonal mayhem between prisoners and police.
For pure nasty action, Zombies! Feast delivers the gobbling goods, with a particularly gross bit involving some brain swallowing that gave me the heebie jeebies while admiring the lettering on the word THUNK in the same panel. McCarthy focuses his script by letting the artwork carry the action, which it does quite well.

While it feels cinematic, it does make for a very VERY quick read (at $3.99 per book this is a common issue for IDW in my opinion) and this style doesn’t exactly push the comic book form to the bleeding edges of the best told tales. As a set up issue, Zombies! Feast #1 feels a bit like a 5 minute prologue to a very promising splatfilm, and I’ll be sure to check out the further issues. Bolton’s artwork and the moody coloring captured my imagination enough to warrant another look, and once some of the story blanks are filled in and the characters get to have their moments amongst the mayhem this could be a zombie book worth remembering.

Scores: (Out of 5)

Art: 4

Story: 2

Chills: 3

Overall: 3

Review: U.T.F. #1 June 24, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews, Independant.
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Writer: Scott Reynolds

Artist: Tone Rodriguez

Reviewer: David Zuzelo

In theory U.T.F. (Undead Task Force) is a good idea. Mix zombies and vampires and stir in a U.S. Government agency full of muscular and sexy ass kickers to stop the monsters, season with great art. Repeat. However, the execution in this book is sadly lacking.  Issue 1 opens up on a prison revolt/vampire infection that has promise before going backwards in time to introduce the actual characters of the story.  The standard big guy and nipple popping through leather jumpsuit chick appear and blow away some zombies, two vampires walk into a bar and only one walks out and so on.  Not exactly innovative, but still-the idea is fine. 

There are so many distractions along the way through the 21 page tale that U.T.F. had me tuning out and losing interest. The characters all talk like Power Man second stringers regardless of race, there are misused words (“You sure know how to weld(??) that boomstick, Nacho.) and for some reason Los Angeles is always described as LA rather than L.A.  I had to read that tidbit over several times to make sure I understood what was being said. 

Am I nitpicking? Perhaps, but for the price of the book a little more editorial could have fixed these distractions. It would have left me inside the story at least. Is U.T.F. a cliché driven book that Rob Liefeld would have drawn with gusto? Sure, but if done correctly I’m all for relaxing my brain and digging into the gore and having fun with the splatter. When the tiny details are greater than the story we have a problem…

On the upside, Tone Rodriguez’ artwork is refreshingly simple and stylish, foregoing the stick figures under photoshop layering that passes for “horror” art in many cases.  Ape Entertainment has lots of interesting projects (I would recommend Athena Voltaire to any comic book fan), and perhaps with some editorial attention, UTF can step up for the remainder of the 3 issue series.  I can’t say I’m enthused to spend another $2.99 to find out.
SCORES: Out of 5

Art: 3

Script: 1

Chills:

Overall: 2

News: Blade artist revealed June 24, 2006

Posted by HC in Marvel, News.
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Tom Brevoort has announced on his Marvel blog that fan favourite Howard Chaykin will be joining Marc Guggenheim on the new ongoing Blade series. Chaykin first came to note as the artist on Marvel's 1976 Star Wars comic, and has lent his unique style to American Flagg!, The Shadow and the controversial vampire comic, Black Kiss. As Brevoort says "C'mon–a cool, sword-and-gun-wielding guy in a leather jacket–is there a better character for Chaykin to work on?"

Brevoort also unveiled Chaykin's first take on the character;

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Here at HorrorComics.co.uk, we think that's kinda cool, a good cross between the movie blade and the original character from Tomb of Dracula. Here's hoping he has wooden knifes!

News: Ash vs Dracula June 23, 2006

Posted by HC in Independant, News.
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It's a marketing opportunity missed. This week's Army of Darkness issue 8 sees Ash taking on old Dracula himself. Groovy yes, by why, oh why haven't we got a Ash vs Dracula flash on the cover.You wouldn't even know that Drac's onboard from most of the varient covers. Saying that, you also wouldn't know that Frankenstein's monster turns up with a bunch of mummies. Bizarre.

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Anyway, for a quick preview of the battle of the month click here and read on for the official blurb from Dynamite:

He's dismembered Deadites in every form but never faced a creature born of undead legend. Gathered from the darkest and most remote corners of the globe, the monsters have assembled under the vengeful hand of Dracula to lay siege to the new world. New York is being bled dry by a plague of vampires and Ash must battle the inner wolf, the soulless man, the curse of the ancients, and the Prince of Blood himself before they turn the city that never sleeps into a hotbed of the living dead. Only a bumbling second fiddle monster hunter and our own chainsaw wielding hero can recover the artifact with the power to destroy the vampires forever. But Ash’s disbelief in the monsters of old may be the gateway to his downfall and their ultimate victory. Grab your crucifix and the spare shotgun shells — this is one over-the-top monster mash you don't want to miss! Also features the first appearance of Dracula’s daughter — don’t miss it!

First apperance of Dracula's daughter? What about Lilith or Countess Marya Zaleska? How many daughters has the Lord of the Damned got? He's an inhuman cad that's what he is.

Look out for a review soon.

News: Dead@17 June 14, 2006

Posted by HC in Independant, News.
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Fans of cute girls and zombies will be creaming their coffins with the news that Josh Howard's Dead@17 will be launching an ongoing series this August from Viper Comics. Taking place in the Dead@17 universe but featuring a new cast of characters the series will be an ideal jumping on point for newbies.

Those who've not experience the series can check out a 10 page full colour preview at www.thewarbegins.com, packed full of eye-poppingly great images such as these!

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Web Watch: The Heap vs. Sky Wolf June 13, 2006

Posted by HC in Web Watch.
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David Zuzelo’s blog Tomb It May Concern features a 10 page story from the Golden Age Air Fighters Comics anthology. The Heap Returns sees a shambling vegetable monster that predates both Swamp Thing and Man Thing.

First appearing in 1942 the Heap was a flying ace, Baron von Emmelmann, who was shot down over the Wausau Swamp of Poland. However the Baron’s will to live meant that his body combined with the swamp waters, transforming him into a massive veggie beast.

Spawn fans may find the name of the creature familiar as thanks to Todd McFarlane’s acquisition of Eclipse Enterprises, a modernised version of the Heap has popped up in the pages of Spawn. While McFarlane’s Heap has little, if anything, to do with the original he remains one horror comics forgotten monstrosities.

News: The Cobbler’s Monster June 13, 2006

Posted by HC in Independant, News.
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Beckett comics have posted a 16 page preview of The Cobbler's Monster: A Tale of Gepetto's Frankenstein, due in stores on July 12th under the Image banner. Jeff Amano has provided the writing duties with what looks like amazing art from Craig Rousseau

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The official blurb reads: 

Grieving over the death of his only son, Gepetto mixes the new science of DNA with the age-old magic of the golem to resurrect his son. But in truth, he was never very close to Victor. And the anger that burns within the heart of the monster he birthed and created, destroys everything and everyone around him. Now, Gepetto must hunt his own son. The story of a man and a monster who through unspeakable horror find their way to becoming father and son for the very first time.

Horror covers we love #2 – Startling Terror Tales #11, 1952 June 9, 2006

Posted by HC in Horror's greatest covers.
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It's enough to make me fire up ebay and seek this one out right now… which is odd as I have a morbid fear of tiny, spindly house spiders. Surely to shirley, owning something containing the Ghost Spider of Death would give me the complete eebie-jeebies.

Artist L.B. Cole was a freaky, freakin' genius as this cover to Startling Terror shows. Why aren't there more horror comics with covers like this today!

HAVE YOUR STARTLING SAY: Have we missed your favourite horror comic cover? Then email us with a scan of the creepy cover in question and tell us why it should enter our horror comics cover hall of fame!