Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"Horror" stories: In this week's "Permanent Damage," Steven Grant uses Patrick Neighly's latest column as a springboard for an interesting examination of what qualifies as a "horror" comic:

"EC's horror stories are rarely more than extended, gruesome jokes. The stories that really approached horror at EC were in their crime and war comics, outlining man's callous inhumanity to man. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan's influential TOMB OF DRACULA – its influence can be seen in almost every horror comic since – is generally acknowledged as Marvel's greatest horror comic ever, but it's only vaguely a horror comic. It's really an adventure comic whose heroes hunt a monster, who himself is sporadically heroic. Neighly correctly cites the current king of the horror hill, Robert Kirkman's Image title, THE WALKING DEAD, isn't really a horror story but 'essentially a survivalist soap opera cloaked in largely superfluous horror elements.' WALKING DEAD's Romeroesque zombies, which even George Romero was playing for laughs and social commentary by his second zombie movie DAWN OF THE DEAD, could just as easily be Martians, cannibalistic hillbillies or postnuclear mutants, and the story would play the same. Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, in 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, has an irresistibly creepy concept that works on our imaginations, but there's little there genuinely scary to anyone who grew up watching vampire movies. In the two 30 DAYS ...-involved series out so far, the only truly horrific, scary moment comes in the very last scene of DARK DAYS, undermining our expectations with the irresistible logic of the situation."

Just for kicks, here's Barb Lien-Cooper's latest column, in which she criticizes Neighly's statements about horror, accuses him of not reading enough comics and, of course, slips in the requisite mentions of Mark Millar and her webcomic.