Oni Pr. Apr. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9781637152911. $34.99. HORROR
Stephens’s (Welcome to Oddville!) unique story collection showcases, with twisted zest, an interplay of supernatural and human evil involving paradoxically childlike individuals. A hapless crime witness gets drawn into an orgy of carnage, goaded by hungry crows. A PhD candidate investigates a mysterious identity switch, only to become the sacrificial victim in a cabalistic ritual. An anger-fueled showman attempts to stage a fun factory of occult phenomena created by “infrasonic ghost frequencies,” but butchery ensues. A whistle made from a murdered clown’s finger bone brings down a team of torturers. A youngster’s good intentions to save his pal’s sister lead to killings and self-mutilation. All occurs in the outwardly placid but covertly weird town of Elwich. The disarming yet chilling art features round-headed, big-eyed characters in an American Chibi style, deliberately based on 1960s Harvey Comics like Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost. The simple primary colors, plus interspersed fake ads and gag strips, enhance the old-timey comics feel.
VERDICT Readers who enjoyed Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa or Octopus Girl by Toru Yamazaki will enjoy untangling the plots of these six cutesy yet highly disturbing stories.
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