Tag Archives: Vampires

Review: ‘Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife’

Penny Must Be Fed!

I am still doing a bit of catching up since Emerald City Comicon. It was a privilege to get to interview some of the folks connected with Skybound Entertainment, one of the imprints at Image Comics. While I was browsing through the tables at Artist Alley, I got to chat with Lukas Ketner and he has the distinction of being attached, with writer Brandon Seifert, to Witch Doctor, the first Skybound Original published by Skybound, beginning in June 2011. Lukas was fun to talk to and encouraged me to give Witch Doctor a try if I hadn’t already. Too often, it takes me a while to warm up to horror titles. But, if the title is good, I am liable to become one of its biggest fans. So is the case with the quirky, unpredictable, and totally entertaining Witch Doctor.

Dr. Morrow and Absinthe O’Riley, curator of the Museum of Supernatural History.

What both Seifert and Ketner have set out to do is marry the best of gothic horror with a contemporary CSI vibe. Vampires, for example, are always an interesting topic for discussion. Plenty of theories out there on what makes these strange critters tick. For Brandon Seifert, a former medical student turned comic book writer, he has his own choice contributions…and they can get pretty bloody disgusting. But that’s part of the fun, right?

This is one dazzling work of comics.

Back to Lukas Ketner, the awesome illustrator on this series, he has gone above and beyond in giving us quite a look and feel to our proceedings. I think one of his crowing achievements is the good doctor’s patient/helper, one hauntingly beautiful yet thoroughly hideous Penelope “Penny” Dreadful. She was once a cute young art student with nothing more dire to consider than the state of contemporary art. Then one day, Penelope is infected by a most diabolical parasite that burrows its way into her. It seems that she just barely still exists, if at all. But Penny struck a bargain with our main character, Dr. Vincent, “the Witch Doctor” Morrow. Given Penny’s tremendous ability to slice and dice monsters, she helps the doctor on his special assignments while he keeps her/it fed and attempts to cure her. Penny Dreadful brings to mind Christina Ricci, as channeled by Mark Ryden, while still retaining its own peculiar vibe.

As for the good doctor, you can think of Dr. Vincent Morrow as something of a horror version of Doctor Who. This is a very dapper and clever fellow. And, just like the Doctor Who on the telly, you always have that odd sensation that anything can happen. This comic book series is stylish, clever, and often hilarious horror! One of the biggest mistakes a horror writer and/or fan can make is to just follow the blood. Fixating on the blood alone is, well, just bloody. Ultimately, that is a dead end. Thankfully, Seifert and Ketner create horror with a true heart pumping all along the way. This is one dazzling work of comics.

WITCH DOCTOR by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner

Skybound Entertainment is an American entertainment company founded by Robert Kirkman and David Alpert in 2010. It produces content for comic books, film, television, and other media. For more details on Witch Doctor, if you have not already, proceed to the first volume collection, “Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife,” and use caution or sheer abandon–whatever works for you.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Image Comics, Robert Kirkman, Skybound Entertainment

Review: THE BELFRY, published by Image Comics

THE BELFRY by Gabriel Hardman

THE BELFRY by Gabriel Hardman

Gabriel Hardman is an artist with a very fluid and powerful drawing style. And that carries over to his writing as well. His latest one-shot comic for Image Comics is a perfect case in point, entitled, THE BELFRY, a trippy surreal vampire jaunt. You could say this is how truly engaged cartoonists dream, or have nightmares: a sequence of seemingly random events that creep up on you to unveil some unnerving results. For Hardman, it all began with a sketch of a vampire woman with silky wings sprawled inside a dank cavern. That haunting drawing led to this strange and lyrical story.

Hardman runs with dream logic and gives us quite a number of compelling visuals: an airliner crash-landing in a remote jungle, devilish winged figures, a spike jammed into an eyeball socket! Yes, it can get gruesome but this is stylish horror. For those of you into quirky comics, you are likely already fans of Gabriel Hardman (KINSKI, Star Wars Legacy) as well as his work teamed up with Corinna Sara Bechko (INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, HEATHENTOWN). This is an artist loaded with wit, vision, and endless energy. Hardman loves to draw as his expressive ink does attest!

The initial sketch that set things in motion.

The initial sketch that set things in motion.

“Fwip! Fwip! Fwip!” go the incredibly long batwings. There’s a deliciously uncompromising vibe to this comic. Right after the airliner crashing, because of those demonic wings getting in the way, co-pilot Bill is awakened by flight attendant Janet. All the passengers have been accounted for. But what about Captain Anders? Well, er, he’s alive except…there’s a stake through his eye. Then there’s a beautifully surreal transition…Bill is running through the wild jungle and falls, as into a rabbit hole, except it’s a huge cave full of humanoid bats. Bill lands with a tremendous thud. He’s been stripped bare. All the other passengers are naked as well. And from there the screws are turned tighter and a splendid nightmare spreads out in full bloom.

THE BELFRY will prove to be a great new addition to your comics reading so make a note of it as this one is a month away. And, if you haven’t been following Hardman, seek him out. A good place to start is the ongoing series, INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, to which I provide a review right here.

THE BELFRY one-shot issue is available as of February 22, 2017. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Corinna Sara Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, Horror, Image Comics, Vampires

Batton Lash’s New Kickstarter: A VAMPIRE IN HOLLYWOOD

Batton Lash

Batton Lash, a comics legend in his own right, has launched a new Kickstarter campaign in support of his latest collection, “A Vampire in Hollywood.” You can join the campaign, which runs thru March 11th, right here.

Batton Lash Vampire in Hollywood

With a distinctive wit and style, Batton Lash has entertained readers over the years with the misadventure of “Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre,” the only law firm that represents vampires, zombies, and other ghouls. Wolff and Byrd has subsequently been known simply as, “Supernatural Law.” It is a cross between Archie comics and The Walking Dead. It is definitely something different!

Press release follows:

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Filed under Batton Lash, Comics, graphic novels, Hollywood, Kickstarter, Monsters

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 Review

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 (GEORGES JEANTY AND TARIQ HASSAN BIRTHDAY VARIANT COVER)

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 (GEORGES JEANTY AND TARIQ HASSAN BIRTHDAY VARIANT COVER)

It’s as if Christos Gage is working from some master plan with how Buffy’s story continues to unfold. For those of you just arriving, we have a sweet spot to jump in. In this new arc, “Love Dares You,” we find Buffy navigating through the rituals of being single and sort of carefree. She even indulges in a round of speed dating. She can’t help but attract the more edgy sort, or poseur edgy. It’s a funny opening scene that sets the tone for much to follow. I’m loving the artwork by Megan Levens, with colors by Dan Jackson. It’s a uniquely cartoony look with an aggressive punch to it.

Buffy is down there in the trenches trying to figure out life. In the current configuration, you have Xander and Spike sharing an apartment. And you have Buffy, Willow, and Dawn sharing an apartment. And then there’s Giles. Only a season ago, who would have ever thought we’d have Giles back as a walking and talking character. Of course, Giles is not exactly where he’d like to be in human form. But you can’t have everything. And, to top it off, you have Buffy and Spike working together again. You have a lot of room to move around with action and characters, perhaps more than ever before. And bubbling in the background is a world …on the verge of magic. That’s got Willow working overtime figuring out the new rules.

If all of this sounds rather involved for new readers, it’s really a very good place to be. You may want to do some binge reading and pick up one or more trade paperbacks collecting previous issues. But, if you’ve been looking for a nice jump into single issues, this is a very good one.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #11” is available as of January 21. This is Buffy on a very good track. Pick up your copy today. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Movie Review: ‘Blood Ransom’ Starring Anne Curtis and Alexander Dreymon

Anne-Curtis-Blood-Ransom-2014

“Blood Ransom” is a slow burn crime thriller that fearlessly takes on the whole vampire genre. As if oblivious to “Twilight,” this vampire love story is a noir-tinged offbeat adventure harking back to the ’70s. It’s got your basic adreniline-fuled plot, vampire gang vs. the one guy who might make a difference, plus a bunch of quirky twists. And much of what makes this work is a strong cast, starring Alexander Dreymon, as the lone wolf hero, in love with Anne Curtis, as the mysterious vampire vixen.

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Filed under Horror, Horror Movies, Movie Reviews, movies, Vampires

Horror Movies 2014: ‘Blood Ransom’ Starring Anne Curtis and Alexander Dreymon to Premiere in L.A. on October 28, 2014

Anne-Curtis-Blood-Ransom-LA-Premiere

We all love a good horror movie. Keep an eye out for “Blood Ransom,” which will hit select theaters on Halloween in North America, Friday, October 31, 2014.

“Blood Ransom” will have its premiere in L.A. at Arclight Hollywood, 6360 W Sunset Blvd, on October 28, 2014, at 8pm. It stars Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story: Coven & BBC America series The Last Kingdom), Philippine’s #1 actress & People Asia’s National Sweetheart, Anne Curtis.

Blood Ransom tells the story of Jeremiah, caught in the middle of an ill-fated plot to kidnap Crystal, his boss Roman’s beautiful young girlfriend. If that isn’t complicated and dangerous enough, there are some pretty fierce vampires to deal with too.

For more information, visit the Blood Ransom website here.

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Filed under Halloween, Horror, Horror Movies, movies, Vampires

DVD Blu-ray Review: DAN CURTIS’ DRACULA (1974)

Dan-Curtis-Jack-Palance-Dracula

The early 1970s made possible a very cool television movie starring legendary tough guy actor Jack Palance as Dracula. Imagine Clint Eastwood as Dracula. Close, but no cigar. Today, Liam Neeson could do it, but he probably won’t. The ’70s were a good time for vampires, along with zombies. It was a more innocent time. They had not even begun to claw the surface of today’s oversaturation. Dracula, as both a literary and horror figure, played well with audiences. And certain older actors were welcome too. There was something about Palance, his affinity for the dark side, that made him a natural for the role.

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Filed under Dark Shadows, Dracula, movies, MPI Home Video, Richard Matheson, Television, Vampires

Interview: Director Eduardo Rodriguez and ‘Fright Night 2: New Blood’

Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

Eduardo Rodriguez is the director of the latest “Fright Night” movie and it’s really good. “Fright Night 2: New Blood” has style and a nice mix of horror and humor. I had the opportunity to talk with Rodriguez about his career, horror movies, and even what he’s currently reading. We also chatted about Jaime Murray, who plays the professor with an evil secret in “Fright Night 2: New Blood.” Was it just me, or was I onto something when I suggested that Jaime Murray would make an excellent Lisa in a remake of “Weird Science”? Rodriguez agrees with me, Murray would make a great Lisa. And, just so we’re clear, there will be a remake of this John Hughes classic.

Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE

Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE

Back to our subject, Eduardo Rodriguez has made some very cool movies with an intense vibe to them, like “Stash House,” “The Messengers,” and “El Gringo.” It is safe to say that he has a taste for action, horror, and the offbeat. It is a treat to get to listen to him relate his student days and then compare that to being a professional. And it’s fun to listen to a pro praise something current like, “The Conjuring.” Clearly, he comes across as someone who loves a good story. And it was nice to have him share with us what he’s currently reading, “Unwelcome Bodies,” by Jennifer Pelland.

UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland

UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland

Rodriguez has come a long way in his career. He advises those in film school to cherish their time in school since those days don’t come back. He sounds quite happy with where he is now. It does look like he has a great career ahead of him. I went back and discovered one of the movies that Rodriguez worked on, “The Messengers.” That has got to be a very scary movie. I have yet to see it and will need to get back to you on it. Here’s a trailer:

Here is a link to the full interview:

“Fright Night 2: New Blood” arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on October 1. You can read my review here.

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Filed under Eduardo Rodriquez, Horror, movies, Vampires

ANGEL AND FAITH #21 Review — Can You See An Animated Movie?

Angel-and-Faith-No-21

With this new arc, “What You Want, Not What You Need,” the scope of this saga hits you. A story has been allowed to breathe freely and unfold luxuriously. It feels well lived in and we don’t want it to stop. You don’t care, on some level, if Rupert Giles ever comes back to life. Part of you knows it’s just wrong. And part of you knows that some things just need to happen. And that’s okay. It’s not like the characters are totally in agreement on what should happen next! That’s okay too. We want conflict. And, you read it here at Comics Grinder first, there’s a lot to be said for taking this whole thing and turning it into an animated movie! That says a lot for the comic, is what I’m saying, really. It does engage you in such a way that you get lost in the characters. Now, the fact is, stories should get to breathe and follow one thought to the next. That is what supposedly happens when you have an event comic but, in reality, that is too often an opportunity to just string along a fan base. Not so here. Dark Horse Comics cares about its readers and “Angel and Faith” is an excellent case in point.

We love Christos Gage in charge of the script. We love Rebekah Isaacs in charge of the art. The whole look and feel is outstanding. And where did Faith’s tattoo come from? I’m sorry, maybe that’s from the original television series. Well, I’m sure it is but I have only seen a few episodes. Not a true believer, huh? I have to do some marathon viewing someday. Is anyone rocking a Faith tattoo? You’re probably out there. Ah, those little details. Then there’s Angel’s nipple ring! We know, for sure, what that’s all about. It is a little relic that helped in the hunt for remnants of the soul of Ruper Giles. And here we are, all the elements to the Giles soul have been safely gathered into a magic bowl and the body of Ruper Giles has been carefully preserved and sits nearby on an operating table. The question is, What to do next? Proceed? Or run like hell? Well, there’s always that tricky question of getting enough super magic juice to jump start this project. That sticky issue comes to a head here because where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Is that Pearl we see reflected in Faith’s sword on the cover art above? Why, I believe it is. And why would that be, do you think? Well, Pearl and Nash are the baddies feverishly looking for any bits of magic still around. And you’ve also got Whistler, Angel’s former mentor, now arch-nemesis, in on the hunt too. Since Angel needs magic like nobody’s business, there’s a strong likelihood of there being a clash and so it is in this issue. It is a wonderful clash, interlaced with the action involved in attempting to bring Giles back from the dead! When you think of all the explanations out there for time travel, some tend to be more poetic and some try to sound as authentic as possible. We’ve got a little of both going on with the Giles resurrection project. Alasdair Coames, in all his fuddy-duddy wizardy, leads the operation in a brilliant fashion. But, as the title for this final arc suggests, is it all for naught? Or worse yet, should one really give pause and ask if they should be careful for what they wish for? At such a late date, should this still be a question? Well, read and find out.

“Angel and Faith #21” is available as of April 24. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.

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Filed under Angel & Faith, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Horror, Supernatural, Vampires

Review: ELVIS VAN HELSING

Elvis Van Helsing Kriozere Altman

With distinctive wit, writer/producers Steve Kriozere (“NCIS”) and Mark A. Altman (“Castle”) present “Elvis Van Helsing.” This was intended to be a TV show so that provides added interest to the graphic novel that resulted in 2010. In this case, the graphic novel stands alone very nicely as offbeat horror.

Elvis Yang is a 20-something who would be quite content to have no goals for the rest of his life, just be a whirling dervish. However, during his six years (and counting) as an undergrad, he has demonstrated flashes of sheer brilliance. It has attracted the likes of Bob Woodward and Stephen King. If Elvis needs something, these guys have his back.

Elvis Van Helsing Stephen King 2010

Kriozere and Altman have faithfully captured that wating, that unfocused yearning, for greatness experienced by an endless array of “losers” quietly aging on a multitude of campuses. But Elvis is supposed to be different, right? He’s the slacker that makes it, right? Kriozere and Altman leave you guessing.

Elvis Van Helsing Steve Kriozere Mark A Altman 2010

The artwork by Jason Baroody and the production by Zach Matheny are sympathetic to this kind of deadpan goofy humor. Even after Elvis discovers his true calling as Elvis Van Helsing, heir to a distinguished traditon of killing off vampires, demons, and various ghoulies, the action remains disconnected and low-key. Kinda cool, huh? That said, the art is not dull. It’s dynamic in its own way, in an ironic cool way. I’d call it a “sarcastic flatness.” Or maybe it’s an endearing flatness. Either way, it works.

Why do I like “Elvis Van Helsing”? Well, because it’s the sort of thing I would be proud to say I had written. It runs the risk of being misunderstood but it is a risk worth taking. If you’re going to take an offbeat path, then embrace it, baby. And that’s what this creative team does with this graphic novel.

Elvis Van Helsing graphic novel 2010

It’s also important to point out that this story, while unconventional, it not just random. You’ve got a well crafted plot with characters that have key roles to play. The whole dynamic between Elvis and the couple who adopted him is intriguing. He’s an Anglo surfer dude and his parents are a traditional Korean couple. Their idea of letting loose is singing karaoke after dinner, especially Elvis songs. Evis’s best friend, Randy, is a perfect foil as an even less focused version of Elvis, if that’s even possible. And then you’ve got two beauties competing for the mind and soul, if not heart, of Elvis: Vanessa, a Vamparella type; and Ariel a seductive and mysterious blonde who will only meet after midnight.

Elvis Van Helsing Ait Planet Lar 2010

The payoff to this graphic novel is that you have a journey worth taking. Ultimately, you get a story about a dude way over his head, on some excellent adventures that leave you wanting more. Along the way, Elvis Yang becomes Elvis Van Helsing, the heir to the greatness he’d been searching for but was clueless about. Has he grown wiser? Was he wise all along? That is the enigma worth exploring.

“Elvis Van Helsing” is an offbeat horror graphic novel that provides twists and turns to an overall engaging story.

“Elvis Van Helsing” is published by AIT Planet Lar. You can purchase a copy here. Check out the video trailer here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Comics Grinder will publish an exclusive interview this Wednesday with Steve Kriozere, the co-creator with Mark A. Altman, of the hit show, “Femme Fatales.”

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Humor