31 Days of Horror Comics Day 3 – ‘Aleister Arcane’ is a Fun Horror Story Where Humans are the Real Monsters

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It’s my favorite time of the year. Halloween is just around the corner, the air is getting cooler, 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.

AAFor day three I’m continuing Steve Niles Week, even though it’s technically only four days because my calendar just wouldn’t play ball. I’ve already covered Niles’ two most well known properties, so today we’re digging deep into the longbox for a two issue series that’s perfect for this time of year; Aleister Arcane. 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre couldn’t be any more different from one another; one is straight up balls to the wall horror, and the other’s a detective story with horror elements. Aleister Arcane is something else entirely.

Aleister Green is a retired weatherman looking for something new to do with his life, and youthful energy. He begins hosting a late night horror b-movie show from his home as Aleister Arcane, and becomes popular enough to get his own local affiliate series, to cheers from the throngs of children in Jackson, Oklahoma.

cba57067ff6ef91eddc732e36a0612b9._SX640_QL80_TTD_The problems begin when the mostly religious parents of those children deem him a bad influence, and get his show taken off the air. He becomes a hermit, only seeing the children who are kind enough to come to his home for a visit. He slowly wastes away without a job, a wife, or friends, and eventually dies in his bed. But not before he places a curse on the parents which turns them into monsters wanting to eat their own children. But what can these children do to stop their parents? Why, enlist the help of Aleister Arcane of course.

Aleister Arcane is a divergence for Niles in many ways, but still has the playful yet terrifying edge he’s known for in many of his works. This series is a wonderful play on a relatively cliche plot that is being echoed in real life again today on college campuses and small towns across the company. It shows, in an imaginative far-fetched way, that there are consequences for those who would deprive others of something because it goes against their beliefs; A modern morality play of sorts.

f9d96f8f162d4bf0485e29b65265f27b._SX640_QL80_TTD_It is also the story of a man so beaten down by life that he gives up, but is saved by the love of children. Niles writes Aleister in such a way that it’s hard not to by sympathetic to his plight. It is a fun romp, and other than a few curse words I’d even call it family friendly spooky fun for a dark and stormy night. And though the monsters terrifying the children are spine-chilling, nothing is more horrifying to me than censorship based on one’s religious beliefs.

Breehn Burns brings a special touch and a bit of poignance to the look of the book with his whimsical painted style. He gives the book a somewhat washed out look befitting a horror b-movie, using a subtle palette with a watercolor style that is soft on the eyes in the best way possible. The exaggerated expressions and movements of the characters would tell the story even without Niles’ excellent words. Burns paints the children in a way that elicits empathy, just as the parents evoke nothing but disdain. Niles couldn’t have picked another artist more fitting with the story.

All in all, if you like horror movies like Trick ‘r Treat (Which Breehn Burns did much of the design for) or The Monster Squad, Aleister Arcane is the book for you. It’s a fun little throwback horror story where humans are the real monsters.

 

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