Archive for the ‘graphic novels’ Category

Kolchak Meets Poe in New Graphic Novel   Leave a comment

kolchak

By C. Michael Forsyth

Before there was The X Files and Supernatural, there was Kolchak: The Nightstalker, and before H.P. Lovecraft, there was Edgar Allan Poe. Both these wellsprings of the macabre fueled my imagination when I was a teenager, and it is a delight to see them combined in a recent graphic novel.

In Kolchak, The Night Stalker: Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe, the intrepid monster-chasing reporter played by Darren McGavin in the 1974-1975 TV show, is back in action, knee-deep in paranormal mysteries revolving around tales by Poe—the grandfather of the weird short story. The writer, James Chambers, does a smashing job of recapturing the personality of the determined underdog, as well as the show’s storytelling style. In the book, Kolchak has a series of adventures, each playing off of a Poe story, including The Telltale Heart, The Premature Burial, the Black Cat, the Tomb of Ligeia and The Masque of the Red Death. These episodes, while satisfying reads individually, are all linked by a narrative that runs through the graphic novel—concerning a magician obsessed with Poe. There are plenty of nuggets to please Poe fans, such as a character named Annabelle Lee.

kolchak. com

REPORTER Kolchak hasn’t lost his knack for uncovering the uncanny.

Carl Kolchak is unchanged, still sporting his signature rumpled white suit and straw hat. He has made a few concessions to 2017. Instead of his old tape recorder and typewriter, he travels with a laptop that he uses to Skype his boss, the grumpy Tony Vincenzo. An interesting touch is that three different artists with distinct styles contributed to the book, depicting the character with varying degrees of success. Between Luis Czerniawski, Felipe Kroll and Jim Fern, I think the last does the best job in nailing McGavin’s mischievous Irish face. To me, the actor resembled a less-handsome Sean Connery.

Darren Best

ICONIC Kolchak was only on TV for one year.

I was a huge fan of the series, in which Kolchak, a reporter for the fictional INS wire service, investigated crimes that invariably turned out to have a supernatural cause. The police were useless, either refusing to believe anything abnormal was going on, or getting tossed about like rag dolls by whatever creature happened to be wreaking havoc that week. So, the plucky journalist always had to take matters into his own hands and dispatch the monster.

In the course of the show, Kolchak’s investigative reporting turned up vampires, werewolves, mummies, doppelgangers and many other of the usual unusual suspects. What made the show so great was McGavin’s character: sly, streetwise, with a sense of humor. I often thought that Kolchak would be fun to follow even if there were no supernatural element and he was doggedly exposing crooked politicians and solving ordinary crimes.

Although the iconic character was McGavin’s best work and is his chief legacy as an actor, he wasn’t satisfied with the show, despite rewriting many scenes himself, and bailed after one season. He was principally frustrated with the monster-of-the-week aspect of the show. This was, indeed, its main weakness. It was never explained why Kolchak “just happened” to stumble onto the supernatural on a regular basis. Chris Carter, creator of The X Files, cites The Night Stalker as his biggest source of inspiration. And in his show that problem is solved: his heroes’ job is hunting the paranormal.

As a kid watching The Night Stalker, I came up with my own explanation that is as good as any. Kolchak, although he doesn’t know it, has been appointed by some higher power to be a champion of good, a white-suited knight battling the darkness.


Check out works by this reviewer, including the horror novel Hour of the BeastHERE.

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In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

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Top Female Vampire Organization Insists: “We are NOT Lesbians!”   Leave a comment

Unlike the lusty vampiress in the horror movie “Lesbian Vampire Killers,” most real-life female vampires are arrow-straight.

By C. Michael Forsyth

The nation’s most prominent organization of female vampires has angrily denounced Hollywood’s widespread depiction of them as lesbians, branding it “an ugly stereotype.”

“Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of female vampires are heterosexual,” declared Anita Sweltword, president of the 1,300-member Daughters of Darkness.

“Yes, we primarily choose women as our victims, but that’s because they are generally smaller and weaker. Honestly, do they expect us to take on some lug who looks like Larry the Cable Guy?”

The movie “Blood and Roses” is based on Carmilla, a story with lesbian undertones.

The notion that lady vampires prefer the company of women can be traced back to the classic horror tale Carmilla, penned by J. Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872. In the story, a female vampire preys on a young woman with whom she’s developed a close, intensely powerful bond.

“The word ‘lesbian’ is never used, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the nature of their relationship,” explains Dennis Furtwyn, author of Vampires Through Time, a 900-page tome that covers blood-drinkers from their earliest recorded doings in ancient Egypt to the present day.

STRICTLY BUSINESS: Female vampires prey on women because they're easier to overpower, they claim.

STRICTLY BUSINESS: Female vampires prey on women because they’re easier to overpower, they claim.

The lesbian vampire image was cemented in the 1983 film “The Hunger” in which Catherine Deneuve starred as a centuries-old vampiress who seduces a mortal, played by Susan Sarandon.

“There are graphic scenes of hot and heavy lovemaking between the vampire and her victim,” the author observes.

But such fictional portrayals are highly inaccurate, Sweltword insists.

“You’ve got to understand that most modern-day vampires were converted during the big wave of the late 19th century, the Victorian era,” she points out. “In those days of prudish sexual mores, most young women led sheltered lives — and homosexuality was an unmentionable subject, referred to only vaguely as ‘the love that dare not speak its name.’

“Most newly turned vampires had never even heard of lesbianism. I myself knew nothing about it until the mid-1950s when I entered the bedroom of a professional golfer. After I sucked her blood and turned to go, she grabbed my wrist and begged me to stay the night. At first, I had no idea what she was driving at. But when I finally got the drift, I was horrified and dove out the window like a bat out of hell!”

Even in comic books, female vampires are portrayed as girl-crazy.

Sweltword doesn’t deny that a handful of her fellow female nosferatu have dabbled in same-sex love romps.

“Yes, some of us who joined the ranks in the last few decades experimented with other girls in college, after a few beers or whatever,” she admits. “But in most cases that was before they were converted.

“The idea that we are all a bunch of girl-crazy, lustful lesbians is just plain wrong.”

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you enjoyed this mind-bending story by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

Bizarre News Cover 5.

If you found this story by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

More about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

Read Hour of the Beast.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

Check out The Blood of Titans.

ZOMBIE PLAGUE IS GOD’S PUNISHMENT FOR POT, SAYS TOP CLERGYMAN.   Leave a comment

ALARMING rise in zombie cases has medical experts scratching their heads.

ALARMING rise in zombie cases has medical experts scratching their heads.

By C. Michael Forsyth

ATLANTA — The swiftly widening zombie epidemic does not owe its origin simply to a rogue germ – it’s God’s way of punishing Americans for smoking marijuana, a respected preacher claims.

“Every major plague of the past 2,000 years has been a form a divine retribution,” declared the Reverend Harvey Stintland, a leading theologian and author. “Leprosy, for example, was sent to punish the Roman Empire for its decadence and debauchery.

“AIDS was, of course, His punishment for homosexuality, just as herpes was His wrathful response to the Sexual Revolution. What we’re seeing now across the country is, once again, the Lord using his tiniest creatures — viruses — to teach sinful humans a lesson.”

The earliest known zombie outbreak in the United States was reported in June 1964, just as pot use was emerging among hippies, the Baptist minister points out.

“This was literally days after Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to ‘grass,’” Rev. Stintland notes. “Now, just as states like Alaska, Colorado and Oregon legalize marijuana, we’re seeing a record number of zombism sufferers. Can that be merely a coincidence? Logic tells us otherwise.”

LIGHT 'EM UP! Weed is now legal in many states.

LIGHT ‘EM UP! Weed is now legal in many states.

Statistics show a troubling rise in the bizarre ailment, called Sarcophagic Lazarus Syndrome by medical professionals. At least 675 cases nationwide were reported in 2014, three times the figure from the previous year. Yet government scientists dismiss Rev. Stintland’s claims.

“You don’t have to bring God or the supernatural into it to explain zombies,” observed a CDC insider. “It’s a matter of cold, hard science.”

According to the clergyman, the Almighty smacks the human race with epidemics from time to time for our own good.

“Our Lord is a loving God, but he is also a stern disciplinarian, not unlike a father who must sometimes take his children to the woodshed. He’s not above using biological warfare to whup some sense into mankind when we disobey His law,” explained Rev. Stintland, author of the upcoming book Germs From God.

SPANISH FLU was God's punishment for the senseless slaughter of  World War 1, according to expert.

SPANISH FLU was God’s punishment for the senseless slaughter of World War 1, according to expert.

Here, from the theologian, are other major epidemics and what God was punishing people for:

Plague of Athens (426-429 B.C., death toll 100,000) — Punishment for paganism
Black Death (1346 -1353 A.D., death toll 50 million) — Punishment for false piety, i.e. being “too” religious
Yellow Fever Epidemic (1793-1798, death toll 5,000 ) — Punishment for secular humanism
Cholera Pandemic (1816 -1828, death toll, 30,000) — Punishment for slave trade
Smallpox epidemic (1827-38, death toll 1800) — Punishment of Indians for resisting Manifest Destiny
Spanish Flu (1918-1920, death toll 75 million) — Punishment for World War I

“Contagious diseases don’t just happen,” the clergyman says. “They are God’s holy will.”

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? In the 14th century, when the Black Death struck, belief in God was at an all time high.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? In the 14th century, when the Black Death struck, belief in God was at an all time high.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you enjoyed this mind-bending story by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

Bizarre News Cover 5.

SPEAKING OF ZOMBIES…

ZOMBIE master Robert Kirkman's graphic novel  "Thief of Thieves" is even better than his "The Walking Dead."

ZOMBIE master Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel “Thief of Thieves” is even better than his “The Walking Dead.”

As I prepare to launch my first graphic novel, I’ve been boning up on the format, and one of the best I’ve come across was written by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead fame. Thief of Thieves is even more cinematic than the zombie comic that spawned the hit TV series. It’s essentially a movie on paper. What makes it unusual is that it doesn’t look like a movie storyboard. The layout is almost entirely narrow rectangular panels that stretch across the page, stacked horizontally. As you get used to the steadfastly unchanging aspect ratio, it becomes like watching images flickering on the screen. The caper story, akin to a movie like The Italian Job, is twisty and adult. The charismatic, broad-shouldered, hairy chested hero is presented so vividly, you think, “They’ve really got to cast the same actor in the movie” — until you remember he’s not a real person!

CINEMATIC panel shape, realistic facial expressions and Kirkman's trademark  timing make "Thief of Thieves" feel like a movie.

CINEMATIC panel shape, realistic facial expressions and Kirkman’s trademark timing make “Thief of Thieves” feel like a movie.

In the purely horror vein, I’ve also become hip to Crossed. It’s a zombie apocalypse saga, but makes The Walking Dead seem optimistic and wholesome as milk by comparison. In this version of hell on earth, the infected legions don’t just cannibalize victims, they gleefully rape, sodomize and mutilate them in an orgy of violence. Then eat them — although in some cases, the atrocities are simultaneous.

PLAY BALL! Mayhem ensues when the contagion hits a football stadium.

PLAY BALL! Mayhem ensues when the contagion hits a football stadium.

The disease, which brands those who’ve been bitten (or otherwise taken in bodily fluids) with a distinctive cross-shaped rash on the face, erases all inhibitions, turning them into rage-fueled, sex-crazed killing machines who love to disfigure both hapless victims and themselves. Worse still, unlike your standard shambling walker, their minds still function — albeit far from rationally — allowing them to use weapons, drive cars and operate motorboats. Imagine 28 Days Later meets Road Warrior meets Hellraiser. Crossed is definitely adults only, due to the unrelenting sexual violence, and not for the faint of heart.

Speaking of crime dramas like Thief of Thieves, if you enjoyed the writing in this article by C. Michael Forsyth, you might enjoy his novel The Identity Thief.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth.

Clint Eastwood Vs. The Zombies   Leave a comment

By C. Michael Forsyth

The Man with No Name rides into a town where a zombie outbreak is in full swing.

The Man with No Name rides into a town where a zombie outbreak is in full swing.

Old West zombies tangle with the wrong dude.

Old West zombies tangle with the wrong dude.

By C. Michael Foryth

When zombies overrun a small town in the Old West, only one man can stop the menace – a Man with No Name!

In Dead West, a graphic novel by Rick Spears and Rob G., the steely eyed anti-hero Clint Eastwood portrayed in westerns such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is injected into a classic zombie-siege scenario.

There have been quite a few comics in which cowboys battle zombies, but this little gem is the first I’ve read that is specifically a spaghetti western. All the conventions of both genres are honored. And the Man with No Name — a tough, lethal gunslinger of few words – is just the kind of guy you want around when the zombie apocalypse breaks out.

"I know what you're thinking ... you want to eat my brain."

“I know what you’re thinking … you want to eat my brain.”

Let me hasten to add that Clint’s name is never mentioned, nor is there any direct reference to the old shoot ’em ups filmed in Italy in the ’60s. I suspect the creators of the slim, black and white book couldn’t afford the rights to the squinty star’s image. But everything about the hero, from the trademark poncho – tossed back for shootouts on Main Street – and the cigar handing from the lips, to his casual gunfighting stance – tells us this is the iconic figure. To boot, his nemesis is a Mexican who relies on animal cunning to stay alive, just like the one played by Eli Wallach in the famous flicks directed by Sergio Leone.

The Man with No Name rides herd over survivors in a zombie siege scenario.

The Man with No Name rides herd over survivors in a zombie siege scenario.

Back to Boot Hill, pardners. It's the quick versus the undead as gunslinger  inspired by Clint's persona in spaghetti westerns takes on a herd of biters.

Back to Boot Hill, pardners. It’s the quick versus the undead as gunslinger inspired by Clint’s persona in spaghetti westerns takes on a herd of biters.

In the graphic novel, an Indian boy’s village is massacred, and when he grows up, he takes horrible revenge on the white townsfolk who did the deed. He casts a spell that causes all dead folks within a circle surrounding the town to rise from their graves and attack the living. A small group of survivors takes refuge in a boarded up room, but they don’t have a prayer until the fearless and resourceful gunfighter rides into town. As with Clint’s westerns, the Man with No Name is cool and amoral on the surface, but proves himself capable of compassion.

The drawing in Dead West is not especially skillful. But the storytelling is excellent, and the mix of genres succeeds.

This review was written by the author of a new thriller, The Identity Thief. Check out the book trailer HERE

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth.

The “Good Old Days” Were Filled with Terror in “SEVERED.”   Leave a comment

The graphic novel Severed was written by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuff, illustrated by Attila Futaki.

The graphic novel Severed was written by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuff, illustrated by Attila Futaki.

Severed is a viscerally scary graphic novel. Set in 1916, it is the tale of 12-year-old Jack Garron, who runs away from the home of his adopted mother with one dream: to find his father, a wandering guitar player. Instead he finds a nightmare: A serial killer with razor-sharp teeth who preys on children.

It’s hard to make comic books genuinely frightening. They lack the immediacy and realism of movies. They also can’t get into your head the way prose novels can, turning your own imagination into a fear factory.

What makes Severed so chilling is its realism; its unnerving depiction of a harsh early 20th century America where poor children were rarely truly safe. In that way, it’s reminiscent of the eerie movie classic, Night of the Hunter. No child protective services. No “safety net.” No food stamps. No Amber alerts. Even before Jack faces the monstrous maniac, he is exposed to dangers such as railroad hobos who try to molest him. A roving predator who feeds on the dreams – and flesh – of the innocent is made entirely believable. The grisly saga unfolds with inexorable logic.

A cannibal madman with teeth filed to points roams America preying on the innocent.

A cannibal madman with teeth filed to points roams America preying on the innocent.

While 30 Days of Night employed an expressionistic style to convey a sense of the supernatural, the artwork here is naturalistic, in keeping with the text. The layout
is highly cinematic, the framing so akin to movie camera angles that the pages look a lot like storyboards. In fact Severed would make a terrific film, though an extraordinarily dark and nasty one.

In the "good old days" there was no shortage of predators of all types.

In the “good old days” there was no shortage of predators of all types.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth.

This review was written by the author of the new thriller The Identity Thief.

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