Ginger Nuts of Horror
A stand alone graphic novel written by Jeff Mariotte and illustrated by the increasingly prolific Daniele Serra, this might, at first glance, appear to stray into standard horror fare. A group of impossibly good looking young adults appear lost in a barren land and are being pursued and attacked by some unknown entity. At first, I thought I'd jumped too far ahead in the story as you are dropped right into this scene, but as I read, it all becomes clear (or as clear as the writer allows).
You see (and even this may be a mild spoiler), these folk are actors who are out in the American desert rehearsing for their current shoot. The real meat of the tale begins when they make their way back to the trailers where the rest of the crew are encamped. From here on in, it becomes a shifting, bloody and violent story that crackles along at a great pace.
It's not quite as enigmatic as some of the promotional blurbs would have you believe. In fact, it's not even all that original as far as horror stories go. What does mark it out is the thick line of black humour that runs throughout and the ability of Mariotte to detail an individual character with only a few lines of dialogue. Sure, there are moments of awkward exposition-type dialogue (some of which I didn't think were needed), but on the whole it works and it shows a nice, natural dynamic between the players. It might not be as emotional as, say, Locke & Key, but for a short, one-off story, it works.
All of this might not have been accomplished had it not been for Daniele Serra's artwork. A rising name amongst the horror community, Serra's art has adorned a number of covers now, and is as recognisable as H. R. Giger or Dave McKean. There's an interesting, washed out quality to the panels that requires you to look again in order to pick out the detail. Crucially, though, you're not overwhelmed with detail and much of the painted action helps to tell the story. It's subtle (well, as subtle as something can be with as much dismemberment as this has).
All in all, a solid 7 out of 10, a nice fast-paced short horror story that plays with certain tropes and familiar (to some) set-ups, but does so with a black tongue firmly in cheek.
Desert survival is hard, even without a cannibal cult in the mix. Five people will find that out as they embark on the most terrifying journey of their young lives . . . only none of them are what they seem--and neither is anything else!--in this gut-wrenching tale of horror. Written by award-winning novelist and comic book writer Jeff Mariotte (DESPERADOES, ZOMBIE COP, THE SLAB, SEASON OF THE WOLF), with art by award-winning, internationally acclaimed illustrator Daniele Serra (PRAY FOR DEATH, VEINS AND SKULLS), FADE TO BLACK is, as bestselling author Jonathan Maberry writes in his introduction, ". . . the darkest and most delicious kind of comic book fun."