The latest installment of the annual anthology of horror, humor, and occasional homunculi Boo! Halloween Stories has been released and is available exclusively on Comixology. This macabre and mirthful mishegas brings together fifteen tantalizing tales from a veritable murderer's row of talented practitioners of sequential art.
The brainchild of cartoonists Manning Krull and Calamity Jon Morris, the history of this ghoulish graphic novel goes back to a collaboration between these two in 2001. Morris related some of that history to us "Manning and I cut our teeth on a pair of unrelated supernatural-themed comics (mine was the webcomic Jeremy, his was a comic written by Eric Zino called Jerkbox & Punk'nhead).
So when we decided we'd like to work on something together, it was natural to make it a Halloween-themed endeavor." In the years that followed, it grew into a collaborative project bringing together a plethora of creators from across the internet.
"We worked on it together for a long time, occasionally inviting additional creators for these online Halloween story galleries, and produced one paper copy of a bunch of our collaborations. I believe that may have been as far back as 2001, or at least around that time. So there was a big gap between that issue and the first digital edition in 2013," said Morris. That year, Boo! was included in Monkeybrain Comics' offering of downloadable titles through Comixology. Rising regularly from its crypt, it has crawled forth punctually each year to entertain readers.
The publication's proud parents are evident in this year's offering with Krull producing cover for the piece conceived in papier-mache as well as art for one of the stories. Morris is present as Master of Scaremonies (i.e., editor) and contributes a brief (but quite enjoyable) introductory comic. Pleased to have Krull on board again this year, Morris says, "It's great because I think he and I have similar sensibilities for what we like to see in our stories - short, self-contained, often supernatural tales that don't take themselves too seriously. It's really my preferred format, and probably Manning's, too, because it means neither of us has to draw more than a few pages for it every year (we're lazy!)"
Other creators include Jojo Seames (The Makeshift Man), Pete Toms (The Short Con, On Hiatus), Kelly Tindall (Strangebread), Brian Winkler (Knuckleheads), Matt Smigiel (Regular Show, Over the Garden Wall), Benito Cereno (The Tick, Hector Plasm), Eric Esquivel (Grimm Fairy Tales, Mega Man), and many more. The graphic novel is described as "Fifteen new shocking, satirical, and surreal short stories from a plethora of pallid participants pack[ing] this volume with even more scares, snorts, and surprises than ever before."
Asked what sets this publication apart, Morris commented on the anthology nature of the piece, curated with a mostly hands-off editing style, "I'm keen to let the creative teams explore whatever themes or plots which appeal to them. This is why we get some traditional horror comic suspense-style stories from creators like Scott Faulkner as well as existentially absurdist work from Pete Toms, or storybook-like horror tales from Matt Smigiel, lush drama from Shawn McGuan and Ken Lowery, and so on. I like to have the book made to contain a sampler of styles and themes. It's like the Whitman Sample box of stabbed-in-the-throat gags."
Elaborating further, "We've lucked upon a group of artists and writers who enjoy mixing up their creative teams. Kelly Tindall started his work with a story by RJ White, then moved on to writing his own entries while RJ has partnered with Carl Nelson and Manning on separate occasions, while Manning just turned in a work with writer Leonard Pierce, and so on and so on. Then we've had creators like Delilah Dawson who've worked with a new artist every issue. The result creates a perfect sort of alchemy, exactly the kinds of stories that keep you guessing."
Having had the opportunity to read the piece, the talent involved is evident with artwork ranging from the colorful and cartoonish to work evoking woodblock prints or engravings. Each piece is rendered with energy and enthusiasm which serves to heighten the scares or laughs they intend to convey.
At 76 pages of original content for a modest $1.99, there truly is something for everyone here whether you're a fan of Twilight Zone-esque tales, timely satire, or ghoulish slapstick. Heck, even the creator bios in the back can solicit a smile through a little wry humor.
But, Mr. Morris, why Halloween? "Why not! There's really not a better holiday for weird and whimsical stories of a supernatural nature. Unless there's something I don't know about groundhog day."0comments
So, I guess the question is… what are you waiting for?