Unboxing: Loot Wear – October 2016

By Dustin Cabeal

Yes, it is November, but I just got this. I'm assuming the underwear delayed the roll out. That's right, Loot Crate/Wear is making undies now! Hell, they even have a separate subscription to get just the underwear or just the socks! I recommend the socks. I'm wearing the underwear right now, and they're all right, but if you just need generic nerd underwear, you can get that at Target. These are dryfit... I guess that makes them better. That means there's no pee hole! The matching socks were for women by the way... make that shit unisex already dammit! They dropped the ball on the horror them and their weird choices in shirt styles. Who the fuck is going to wear that Alien shirt? No one, you'll look like an asshole in PJ's. I'm looking forward to next month because you know they're going to shit the bed on Christmas. 

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Review: House of Penance #5

We’re marching towards the finale of Dark Horse Comics’ House of Penance, the horror series about Sarah Winchester and The Winchester Mystery House by Peter J. Tomasi, Ian Bertram, and Dave Stewart. This here is a review of issue five, the penultimate chapter of the series. Now, before reading this series, my only exposure to Peter J. Tomasi’s writing had been through the DC Comics series he’d written (namely his Batman and Robin run with Patrick Gleason), so it was really nice to see what he could do on a creator-owned series like House of Penance. In this issue, Tomasi opens his characters up a bit more, offering us further insight into the story behind the construction of Winchester House and the misdeeds of Warren Peck. His writing is consistently good throughout, his pacing is on-point and he ends the issue with a nice lead into the finale. Can’t fault it.

House of Pennance #5On to the art: Ian Bertram and Dave Stewart are a force of nature on this title. The combination of what the pair can do together is something else. I think Ian Bertram’s art style is a great fit for the title. Personally I love his artwork. I know some people don’t but I’m the one writing the review which makes my opinion more valid, haha. Basically, it’s hard to imagine this book drawn by anyone else other than him. There are some great panels in there, a couple of nice splashes and the composition on every page makes the story flow really well.

On top of that (literally), you’ve got Dave Stewart’s colors complimenting Bertram’s line work beautifully. Stewart really makes the art pop with his bright, vivid color work. The book is absolutely sodden with a rich, blood-red running throughout it and it really sucks you into the story.

With House of Penance, It’s been refreshing to see a miniseries that maintains a steady level of quality throughout, a lot of series these days are trailing off towards the middle and finishing with a whimper when it should be a bang... From this issue, I’m going to say that we’re going to get a helluva bang (or should that be helluva 'blam blam blam'?) from Tomasi, Bertram and Stewart.

Verdict: A great issue all-round and it comes wrapped in a lovely cover worthy of the book's cover price alone. If you like your horror comics and you’ve already read the previous issues, keep up the good work and get yourself a copy. Matter of fact, get two copies. One to read and one to frame because this book is a masterclass in how you do horror comics and the fact the story is woven with elements of truth makes it all the creepier. If you aren’t reading this book, you’re missing out.

Although… if you haven’t been reading from the beginning of the series, you can check with your local comic shop for back issues (I’m going to guess you won’t find them, but it’s worth a shot!) or download them digitally via ComiXology. Failing that, get yourself the trade when it comes out. It really is a treat.

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House of Penance #5 Writer: Peter J. Tomasi Artist: Ian Bertram Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital

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Review: Tragic Tales of Horrere #2

I review a lot of anthologies, not because they are regularly worth reviewing, but because they are easy to pick up for review. Every week a new batch of books come in to be picked through, and more often than not it's dozens of titles well into their runs without easy points of entry to the story. Anthologies give you quick stories and usually at least a few pieces with nice art to comment on. The only hard part about reviewing the average anthology is the reviews tend to write the same. This one is no different. Forget the nice cover art and the faux artsy title, Tragic Tales is pretty run-of-the-mill indie self-published horror. None of the stories are awful mind you, but I've read them before. Horror is hard, original horror is harder, but with the sheer number of horror anthologies out there it seems people are really convinced they have what it takes to be the Cryptkeeper's understudy. The reason it's a popular genre for underpublished artists in any medium is because horror often has dramatically easy elements: extreme violence, madness, exaggerated emotional states, guilt, gooey red bits. While none of the stories contained here are painful to read, they don't have a drop of dread among them. I don't even feel the need to break the stories down individually as I might usually, not one stood out as something I hadn't read many times before from a library of anthologies before it.

Tragic-Tales-of-Horrere-#2-1So why review at all? Well, because while the scripts are all forgettable, the art on this book is pretty good all the way through. Self-published good I should add, I'm not hunting any of these artists down after the fact to read more, but there wasn't one stinker in the bunch. "Tupper" by Diego Simone had a nice shadowy toon-influenced style that was vaguely reminiscent of a more grounded restrained Johnen Vasquez. "The Guided Cage" by Gareth Sleightholme had some really nice gore illustration, with a couple entertainingly over-the-top panels of carnage that served as some of the most memorable art in the book. Alisdair Wood's "Grimoire" had a bad habit of not including backgrounds (a real problem in a black and white book where you don't have color to suggest more for you), but had some nice gritty character work and supernatural imagery. The art couldn't distract away from how little the script had to offer, but it was nice to see an anthology so uniformly professional in appearance.

Despite its attempt to give itself an image of being interesting and unusual ('horrore' is apparently obsolete Italian, 'horror' itself is Latin) with a pretty cover and a throwaway dedication to Prince and Bowie, there's really nothing here to earn the image the cover gives you. Blame E.C. Comics for making being a horror comic creator some sort of mark of being a rebel, not letting that square Wertham keep them down. But we have libraries of this stuff now. Enough to fill days worth of reading. Maybe if the people who wrote for anthologies actually read a handful of them they'd see the patterns and try writing something other than slasher stories with 'surprise' gender reversal killers at the end. It's not revolutionary if its not scary. It's not rebellious if it can't even be interesting.

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Tragic Tales of Horrere #2
Writers: Various
Artists: Various
Publisher: Madius Comics
Price: £4.00
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital

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