31 Days of Horror Comics Day 13 – ‘Freak Show’ is Unnerving Horror as Only Bernie Wrightson can Draw

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It’s my favorite time of the year. The time of Halloween, horror movie marathons, and making sure your asshole neighbors didn’t put razorblades in the candy again this year. The air is getting cooler (Just not in California), and it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up in bed with a good book. But which book? That’s where I come in. Every day this month I’ll be suggesting a great horror comic series; some will be straight out tales of sheer terror, while others will be more subtle. We’ll have everything from vampires, zombies, werewolves, and witches, to stories of less defined horror. So join me for 31 Days of Horror Comics.

freakshowWell known for his work illustrating Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you can’t talk about horror comics without mentioning Bernie Wrightson, which brings us to day 13’s choice; the lesser known Freak Show. Originally published in 1982 in Spain, then later serialized in Heavy Metal magazine, Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson’s Freak Show was collected by Image Comics/Desperado Publishing in 2005. The collection is actually an anthology collecting four short works of varying quality by Wrightson.

This collection features some of the signatures of Wrightson’s back-catalog; freaks, vampires, Medieval fantasy, ironic twists, and more, all illustrated as only he can.

The titular lead story takes up a great portion of the book, but what a story it is. Bruce Jones’ fantastic script really allows Wrightson to let loose, and let loose he does. The pages are filled with every manner of freak and weirdo, drawn in Wrightson’s signature highly detailed and moody style. The story itself is great, using an amoral man to provide a moral to the story, and the twists are demented and cruel. But this is Wrightson’s show.

Wrightson’s art is as great as ever, with an almost-woodcut look to much of it, a Victorian-era-ness of sorts. His art is definitely strongest on the lead story, but even the shorter ones from a decade earlier show an artist with a sureness of hand, and there are glimpses of the brilliance that was to come. This may not be Wrightson at the top of his game, but it’s a great time capsule of an artist evolving. Freak Show, or honestly anything by Bernie Wrightson, is a perfect Halloween read.

 

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