31 Days of Horror Comics Day 4 – ‘Cellar of Nastiness’ is an Uneven Yet Entertaining Collection of Horror Shorts

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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.

711UntH4mPLHere we are at day four, and the end of Steve Niles Week. We covered his two most famous creations, 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre, as well as the less well known Aleister Arcane, and I’m ending it with Steve Niles’ Cellar of Nastiness. This book collects many of his shorter works including one-shots and short stories, and it is bursting at the seems with madness and mayhem.

The book begins with Hyde, Niles’ modern reinvention of the Jeckyll & Hyde story featuring artist Nick Stakal. Two brothers who are close to creating a new anti-depressant have their funding pulled, so they decide to be their own guinea pigs and test it out on themselves, with horrific results.  Not my favorite story in this collection, but it’s an interesting twist on the mythos that is unfortunately too short for me. I would have liked to explore the brothers’ relationship more, but it’s a fun little story anyway. Stakal’s art is disjointed, jagged, and perfectly fitting the story at hand.

Next up is the more family friendly (sort of) The Very Big Monster Show, with Butch Adams on art duties. A young boy pines for the golden age of horror, feeling that today’s monster movies are too horrific and gory. After realizing that the strange manor house in his neighborhood is where the classic monsters retired, he decides to take Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the creature from the Black Lagoon on a road trip to Hollywood to show the new guys how it’s done. The Very Big Monster Show is an insanely fun, nostalgia filled, heartwarming tale of courage and faith in oneself. Adams’ children’s picturebook style is endearing and nostalgic itself, and adds to the fun.

JUL042975_11The rest of the book reprints Niles’ anthology one-shot Horrorcide, featuring four short stories of varying quality. Bitch features the work of Josh Medors telling the tale of man’s perversion toward women gone horribly wrong, as female robots relentlessly hunt down and kill male humans. Torg’s Big Day is slightly twisted time-travel gone wrong drawn by Chee, as two scientists use a time machine to travel to the past and find a cure for a virus in the present. Making Amends, again with Josh Medors, is a tale of revenge from beyond the grave, as a repentant gang banger finds he is not forgiven by the family he murdered. This is my favorite of the bunch, and Medors black & white ink scratch style gives the story the perfect level of dread. The Neighborhood Creep, featuring atmospheric art by frequent collaborator Ben Templesmith, is the tale of two boys finding out that the creepy old guy in the house everyone avoids isn’t a scary as he seems, and that everyone else may in fact be the monsters.

Over all Cellar of Nastiness is a great little anthology style collection of some of Steve Niles’ ideas that he couldn’t, or didn’t want to, shoehorn into one of his longer stories, and it’s a mostly great book  to get you in the mood for Halloween. Tomorrow I’ll bring you another.

 

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