Drawing on Your Nightmares: An Introduction
I’m writing my inaugural Dread Central blog right after seeing the remake of “>Friday the 13th, which has stirred my love of the horror genre in unpredicted ways. I’m not committed to the whole slasher genre, even though when the original F13 came to cable I was about thirteen myself, which I still think of as the perfect age for that stuff.
To weigh in on the controversy that was kicking around this weekend, I enjoyed the remake, but was disappointed. The defense from DC fans for the movie seems to be that F13 movies never had any brains. I’d say they might not have been long on brains, but in the first two movies, there was some suspense and mystery around who or what the killers were. Crude though their art was, the filmmakers knew to hold back enough to keep things scary.
One poster was satisfied that the only mystery was who’ll get killed next, but I think that sells the genre short. Inventive murders are essential, but a little character and story aren’t too much to expect. The new F13 had neither, although it was fun. Anyone remember the remake of Dawn of the Dead? Incredibly fun, total crowd pleaser—this crowd, I mean—but with actual acting, and a pretty solid story. Plotlines and subplots, character arcs. Not bad.
But F13 did have breasts aplenty. I was sorely disappointed that Grindhouse had so little nudity—Tarantino and Rodriguez’s claim about making authentic grindhouse was dashed by their inability to follow through on the mix of sex and death, so much a trademark of the genre, and part of what makes us feel that we’re out there on the fringe of human experience. Are you seriously telling me that Miley Cyrus can drop her drawers for Vanity Fair, but a horror movie can’t show a little skin? What kind of sense is that?
The thing I love about the horror genre is its ability to swing on wide arcs, from highbrow to low, while still doing perfect service to the core ideas of the genre. F13 was pretty low. If you’re familiar with Dark Horse’s line of horror comics, we swing just up from center. We offer pretty well developed stories and real characters placed in interesting situations. We keep it fairly light in terms of intellectual pursuit, taking great advantage of the visually wide-open artform of comics, with master practitioners Mike Mignola and Eric Powell as two of our regular contributors with their masterpieces Hellboy and The Goon, respectively. Ours is not the goriest kind of horror—frankly, I think that sort of thing is done better in film, where part of the fun is how convincing it can be. In comics, you never for a second think it’s real, so the gross out can only go so far. Our visual kicks are more about showing things that are distinctly unreal. We love monsters of any kind …
This is gonna be a good year for horror at Dark Horse. We’re relaunching the seminal horror anthology Creepy, to go along with our massively successful hardcover editions of the old stuff. Mignola and I are steering the Hellboy line of books back toward the horror genre, after digressions into more sci-fi and fantasy storylines. We’re wrapping up the fantastic Rex Mundi series, by Arvid Nelson and Juan Ferreyra, after more than ten years. We’ll be launching two major projects dealing with serial killers. And I’m gonna try to convince you to check out a comic by the funniest guy in comics and an artist who can make you cry, with their book about neighborhood dogs and cats that investigate supernatural menaces. I‘m not saying it’s gonna be easy.
When I instituted the Dark Horse horror line, it was in part a response to the horror community I saw rallying around magazines like Rue Morgue and Carpe Noctem, which I felt were ignoring the great horror books we were already doing, like Hellboy. A more consistent output of horror got them to take notice. But the world’s sure as hell changing, and the interwebs are all the rage. So I’m grateful to Dread Central to give me a place to sound off to the likes of you, where all we have in common is a love of a genre that’s still underdog, no matter how many millions it earns, and how many media it conquers.
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