Friday, September 11, 2009

The Halloween Comics You're Not Reading, Part l

I love Halloween. In my head it's always orange and purple and black; even Christmas is a touch spooky with me around, because I like to pass time on Christmas Eve telling ghost stories and put Haunted Mansion ornaments on my tree. I occasionally try to count all of the Halloween stuff that's up all year round in my bedroom and always lose count/interest somewhere in the thirties.

Some of my favorite authors and artists have hat same ever-present autumn in their souls, and lucky for me, let it reflect in their work. I think I'm going to do a feature on each of them as it occurs to me, so today I'll sing the song of Dan Brereton, one of my favorite artists and creator of one of my favorite comic book series, The Nocturnals.

Meet the family!

The Nocturnals is a neat mesh of weird: you have pulp, horror, and Halloween, and it creates something really special. Essentially, this is an ensemble story about a family and the trouble that they frequently face. The saturnine fellow up there with the girl with two-tones hair is Doc Horror and his daughter, Evening. Doc and Eve fell to earth from another dimension, trying to escape the parasitic evil that took over their own planet. Eve was just a small child at the time, and as a result of her fall was seperated from her father for a year as he tried to find her. Doc ended up working for an old time gangster who eventually helped him reunite with Eve.

Around that same time period their littel twosome grew by several as Polychrome, Starfish, the Gunwitch, Firelion, and Komodo were adopted into the clan. Eventually the Raccoon began to tag along too, originally because he'd very much like to get into Starfish's pants. Each Noctunal has their own bizarre back story, and it parts of each are revealed through the different stories currently out. There's also a Nocturnals bible called Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion, which gives more in-depth character backgrounds and biographies.

Here's a quickie into:

Polychrome, or Poly for short. She's a ghost, murdered and originally a wraith, but she now cruises with this crew and helps protect instead of haunt. She's a very gentle sort of soul, and doesn't have the same appetite for violence that her adopted kin possess.

Firelion, or Phestus Gold as he is named. Used ot be a cop, then caught fire, all by his lonesome. The government rebuit him, bigger, faster, fire proof. They HAVe the technology! Too bad they all sucked, and Phestus his the road. He likes stabbing things and lighting them on fire, depending on his mood. Me likie Phestus. Lots.

Doctor Nicodemus Horror, head of the family, so to speak. His wife was killed (I think) by the same entity that he and his daughter fled from on the Black Planet. He can't be out int he sun as it's lethal to him, and he's also contracted a nasty little virus that occasionally brings out his more lupine characteristics. He's a genius and very compassionate, despite the fact that he looks like Dracula.

Evening Horror and The Gunwitch, two more members of our little group. Eve is also referred to by her loving family as Halloween Girl, a very appropriate title since she is rather a physical embodiment of that holiday. This kid is seriously spooky, and she's got a plastic jack o lantern full of toys that mean serious business when it comes to Eve's protection. Somehow she can hear ghosts, though I'm not sure if it's a gift she inherited from her mother or something in her that changed when her father dumped her through the portal as a small child. With her there is the Gunwitch, a resurrected gunslinger who is part zombie, part enforcer, and all silent, doting babysitter for Eve. He's a dead eye shot, and also just a dead eye, what with the zombification and all. He was called back into service by Doc Horror, and protects his friends with his guns. Eve made his hat.

Starfish, the aquatic anomaly. She was discovered as a little fetus thing in suspended animation by the good doctor. He out her in a tub back at the Tomb to study her, and to his shock, he grew a girl! She's quite volatile, and good in water or out of it. She's very good with a gun, and as the Raccoon discovers, not above slinging a punch. She's most (to me) like Eve's sister, and doesn't hesitate to call a brat a brat when needed.

The Racoon, who was called Bandit and is called Procyon Cleanhands. He was built by the Narn K Corporation in what was dubbed The Monster Shop. Supposed to be warriors for sale, they kinda ruined that by having a nasty little thing called free will. He escaped some time before the start of this story, and Doc helped him get on his feet though he soon went his own way. He has a very ambiguous moral compass and tends to be on his own side, rather than a straight good or bad guy. He thinks Starfish badly needs to get laid, by him, and is doing his hardest to make that happen.

Komodo, or the Dragon Boy. Narn K's most recent escapee, he got his wings clipped (right off) for his first escape attempt. I think he's roughly a teenager in temperament and age, and also very restless to see the world. He and Eve get along quite well.

There's your basic rundown, now go read it! Gorgeous art all through out-- the issues that Brereton illustrates as well as writes are all entirely painted interiors, and are gorgeous. Eventually I want to get some actual prints of Brereton's work for my walls, but until then I have the internets. Dan Brereton is my favorite to do the art for the books, but some stories have been done by Ted Naifah (of Gloom Cookie and other stories).

One really great idea conceived of and executed resulted in the story The Troll Bridge. Eve makes "friends" with a rotten little devils head lantern, and ends up dragging her through several different worlds. All of the artists of these respective worlds did the art for this massive cross over, and it's AWESOME. Jill Thompson gets to draw Eve in the Frightside, where she meets The Scary Godmother, another favorite of mine. She also meets Usaki Yojimbo (and is drawn by Stan Sakai), as well as Jingle Belle, Santa's daughter, you get to see a zombie gunfight, all kinds of great stuff!

If you need a jumping off point the story starts (I believe) with The Black Planet. Go. Read.


Seriously, how can I resist having such art in my home?


Nojh said...

Gah! I both love you and hate you. This comic looks totally awesome and I so want to read it. And amazon is selling the first hard bound collection for $90 bucks (apparently it is hard to find). The 2nd volume is still in print for $30 thankfully. But still. Now I have to think if I can afford to splurge like that. Curse you! Polychrome and Gunwitch look really interesting...

Stac said...

I LOVE this comic!

What I recommend you do is get this:

It's the first story, it's waaay cheaper, and then if you dig it, you can be a completest like me and get the collection (I have the first one, and I'm getting the 2nd with my next paycheck. :D)

It is SO worth it, though; i LOVE these books. I really love Starfish, but I think that's because I can relate with irritability. ;) The whole cast is my favorite, honestly. :)

Nojh said...

Awesome! Perfect idea. Thank you!

No wait. Now I'm going to be bidding against everybody else who follows the blog.

*glares menacingly* MINE!

Stac said...


I think you're safe, hon. ;)

Cins said...

I remember you telling me about this a coupe years ago but the name totally escaped me. I will definitely have to check it out!

Didn't go dress up as Starfish for Halloween once?

Stac said...

I tried, but it failed, horribly. ;)

I'm gonna try again, but I wanna make sure that I have enough time to build all of the pieces correctly.

Read it! It's SO good!

zombiestomper said...

that book sounds so freaking awesome. I need to check it out. I really dig a good horror comic.

Stac said...

ZS: Run to it and embrace the glory of my reading taste!

The Man With No Name said...

Woah gonna have to look out for that one. Doctor Nicodemus looks like a hard ass lol

Stac said...

No Name: I LOVE this comic! Doc Horror's great-- he's a bad ass fighter, but a really cool guy. And he looks awesome in an Italian suit!