Conveying scares and horror on the printed page is tough business (yes, even for you, Stephen King!). Add pictures into the mix and it's... umm... tougher. With film, the director (and by default, the editor) retain complete control of the train even after it's left the station. The audience sits in the theatre and the movie plays out before them. They've got no choice about the pacing or the atmosphere; they're thrust into the story, for good or for bad. Yes, of course at home you can pause the dvd and all that, ya weisenheimer. But ultimately, the story itself is going to play out as the director intended.
With a comic book, though, the reader is in complete control of the process, from beginning to end. You can breeze through the entire story in a minute, or take an hour, closely inspecting each and every panel. Given the variables, it's difficult for a real atmosphere or mood to be established. To my mind, atmosphere and mood are key elements in deciding whether or not a horror movie is successful. That said, what chance does a horror comic have at hitting its mark...particularly a slasher comic?
Well, after reading Hack/Slash: Girls Gone Dead, I came to the conclusion that the slasher genre is surprisingly well-suited to the comic book medium. There's not many scares, per se, but there's a heck of a lot of fun. Think not Friday the 13th, but rather Friday the 13th Part III and you'll get the idea.
Hack/Slash is the story of Cassie Hack, the survivor of an attack by a killer called The Lunch Lady- who just so happens to be Cassie's mother. Cassie teams up with Vlad, a scary-looking monster-type guy, and the duo sets out to rid the world of 'slasher killers' one at a time.
In Girls Gone Dead, Cassie and Vlad are in Panama City Beach, Florida, tracking down what they think might be another slasher. The action begins on page 4, and it couldn't be more like your typical...well, slasher. Boy A and Girl B head out onto the sand for a little you-know-what*, and they meet their grisly end- complete with the trip-n'-fall from Girl B:
*I mean 'sex', as if you didn't know. Don't play coy with me!
Eventually, the daring duo tracks the killer to his hotel room, and they discover who- and what- he is. He's Father Wrath, a hateful televangelist turned murderous-avenger.
I'm not gonna reveal all of Father Wrath's story here (and there's alot more to it), in case you want to seek this out. If you're into comics and slashers, well, this is like two great tastes that taste great together. Writer/creator Tim Seeley obviously has a huge love for the genre, and the book has all the hallmarks of what makes these movies fun. And you know what? Maybe it's just me, but I'd love to see Father Wrath on the screen, in action. He's pretty damn spooky looking. Scarier than the school mascot-turned-killer in Girls Nite Out, that's for sure.
The artwork by penciler Federica Manfredi and colorist Davide Amici is a perfect blend of realism and 'comic book' style, and there's a decent amount of blood spilled.
I'm really looking forward to reading more of the adventures of Cassie and Vlad. I'll get to come March, when Seeley and Co. release Hack/Slash: Trailers. It's- you got it- shorts acting as trailers for stories that won't be... an idea that, quite frankly, I'm insanely jealous of. Why didn't I think of that, dammit? It's alright, though. I trust Mr. Seeley to take care of the genre- I wish I could say the same about Hollywood .
To read more about Hack/Slash: Trailers, head over here.
Oh, and if you haven't done so yet, well, why don't you enter my Silent Hill 2 Giveaway Contest? See, I added a link there so you don't even have to scroll down. Hugz.