I’ve mentioned before how many horror fans that I know are also usually nerds — I myself am no exception, and I use that term not as a derogatory one, but as a badge of honor. I think the imaginative nature of horror fans naturally encourages an affinity for other worlds of fantasy, be it science fiction, sword-and-sorcery fare, comics, Anime, or any variety of other interests that can become somewhat obsessive in their pursuit. When the collision of one or more of these fantastic spheres of interest happens and is handled well, it’s a real treat for us — be it the mixing of say, sci-fi and horror in film or television (Aliens, Forbidden World, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The X-Files — hell, even some episodes of Star Trek), or the blending of bloody tales with the pages of comic art (Tales From The Crypt, Vault of Horror, House of Mystery, etc.). Situations like this are rare examples of cases where we Fellow Fans can have our figurative cake, and eat it too.
On that note, we’ve been talking about a new graphic novel from Freaktown Comics that’s currently crowdfunding called Slashermania. Creator Russell Hillman has been kind enough to let me check out the unfinished workprint of the book so I could put my two cents in on it — so here goes:
It’s 1983, and the latest incarnation of the popular pastime Slashermania is set to go. The event is sponsored by the investments of safely anonymous, very wealthy contributors who, lacking in what they considered real entertainment, finance the gathering of murderers, serial killers, and maniacs to participate in what amounts to televised slaughter. Each year has gotten bigger, with more killers added and different “venues” used (an abandoned hotel, a college campus), outfitted with cameras and audio equipment, to serve as “stages” for this “artistic exposition”. At these “settings”, an assortment of teens and young adults are assembled under false pretenses to be used as fodder for the killers and the thrill of the viewing audience. It’s become so popular in such a short time, there’s even an Oscars-type award show that comes in on the heels of the massacre, where the killers can win awards in such categories as “First Blood”, “Coitus-Interruptus”, “Best Multiple Kill”, and the coveted “Slasher of the Year”, among others — these have affectionately become known as the “Slashies”. The entire show is hosted by two of the first Slashie winners, Todd Morton and Sanguine Slaughter, who’ve chosen to give up their knives and razors and instead narrate the proceedings for the exclusive audience. This year’s event is going to be the largest ever, as fifty young people are herded to an exclusive summer camp for “counseling” and a fresh start as counselors themselves — but that “start” will be short-lived, as ten of the most devious and vicious killers are coming to ply their trade for the hidden cameras. This year’s Slashermania also marks the its first time as an international event, with several of the psychos coming from abroad, including the U.K. and Italy. With this lineup, there’s certainly going to be a lot of death to be had — this promises to be the best year ever!
I was very intrigued by the story’s concept — kind of a mash-up of The Hunger Games and a horror version of The Expendables, with mebbe a bit of The Running Man tossed in for flavor — all from the perspective of slasher killers and the underground society they could inhabit, if they all lived in the same universe…along with the sicko spectators that would support them and their “art”.
The narrative is well-written, bringing even the most peripheral of horror fans into the established storyline with ease, skillfully creating a world that’s easy to believe in, yet firmly steeped in the mythology of the slasher flick. The cast of characters includes a rogues gallery of slashers that fill out the roll call of virtually any horror fan, including Signor Gialli (nodding to the Giallo killers), The March Hare (a guy in a rabbit mask with the quirky one-liner personality of Freddy or Chuckie), and Franklin Frost (a hybrid of Jason and Michael Myers), among seven others that you’ll see the influences for. The artwork by Ron Joseph and CJ Camba, with inks by Jake Eisenberg, colors by Harry Saxon and letters by Sergio Calvet, is fantastic, reminding me something of Art Adams, yet with the graphic detail and sinister angles of Berni Wrightson or even Jack Davis. The colored pages that I checked out were rich and nuanced, with plenty of gore for the hounds when the situation dictates.
All in all, as a forty-plus year horror film and comics fan, I have to say I’m liking what I’m seeing. Now, I repeat that what I checked out was a workprint — an unfinished copy, with no ending, and some of the pages were still just in the penciled breakdown stages, but I certainly had enough to get an idea of what it was all about, what it was going to look like when finished, and above all really wanna know how it turns out!
UPDATE: The book is finished, and I have to say that I was not disappointed! The artwork and colors I’d seen in the workprint flow through the remainder of the comic, and the story is resolved in quite the unexpected (but satisfactory) way! As a one-shot, stand alone story in the slasher mythos, I’m of the opinion that Slashermania is a must-have for any slasher fan or horror comic aficionado (of which I like to think I’m a bit of both).
If you get the chance, check this one out, folks.
My two cents (but I’ll throw in a bit more than that!)