Tuesday, September 11, 2012


If you’re from Chicago and you love horror, then you’re familiar with Horrorbles, a store dedicated to satisfying all of your horror needs.  They really do have everything you could ever want there, from model kits to movie props.  It’s a great place, but does it make for a great comic?

That depends on what you’re looking for.  If you’re out for cutting-edge horror, nasty things you’ve never seen before, and other truly horrifying things, then you might want to look elsewhere.  However, if you want to satisfy the fanboy within, this is probably more your speed.  Hell, it even includes an introduction by Svengoolie.  How cool is that?

The first story is “The Monster Man,” written by John Aranza and Rafael Nieves and illustrated by Dan Dougherty.  It is the “true” story of how Aranza came to be the owner of Horrorbles.  When he was an outcast kid, he was drawn to monster movies, and one day, he wanders into a place called the Curiosity Shoppe, which is run by an old man who looks suspiciously like Ray Bradbury.  In this store, he finds a magical box, and once he takes possession of it, he is inspired to amass a grand collection of horror memorabilia.  He even starts becoming popular with the other kids.  What’s in the box?  The writers never explain it, but clearly it’s inspiration to follow one’s dreams.  Yeah, that’s kind of cheesy, but it speaks to the child in all of us.

Next up is “The Things You Leave Behind,” written by Nieves and illustrated by Dougherty.  It’s about a young man who finds himself locked in Horrorbles overnight, and he discovers that when the lights are out, the monsters come out and play.  He also discovers something interesting about himself, too.  Again, there’s nothing outrageous about this one, and it speaks to the etc., etc., etc.  It’s capped off with a germane quote from Bradbury himself, reinforcing the idea that he’s probably Aranza’s favorite writer.

“Shoplifters . . . Beware!,” written and illustrated by Dougherty, is a cautionary tale of what happens when someone tries to steal an alien-head guitar pick from Horrorbles.  He soon discovers that every time he walks through a door, be it on a building or on a vehicle, he finds himself back at Horrorbles.  As it turns out Madame Wells has cursed items in the store.  If you shoplift them, you’ll be cursed to keep returning to Horrorbles until you’re allowed to buy the item.  The protagonist then has to travel down to New Orleans from Chicago to meet with Madame Wells, to beg her to remove the curse, and he has to do it all on foot.  (Remember, he can’t walk through any door.)  Exhausted, he shows up on her doorstep, and she invites him in . . . and he finds himself right back where he started.  This is easily the best story in the book due to its maddening premise.  Remember Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN?  In the first issue, Morpheus cursed the villain who had captured him for a hundred years to a lifetime of waking up from nightmares with no relief.  This is kind of like that.

“The Life of the Party,” written by Nieves and illustrated by Dougherty, is about a birthday party being thrown in the basement of Horrorbles, but the birthday boy is kind of a jag off.  He starts fucking around with the displays and makes vague threats to busting the place up.  He wanders down to see the rest of the guests only to find them all brutally murdered by a malevolent spirit inhabiting the body of a friend.  All in all, this is the weakest of the bunch mostly because it’s silly.  It barely makes sense, and it’s the most formulaic (if you can imagine that odd combination).

Last up, we have “Err, A Parent,” written by Nieves (with an assist from Ernesto Avina) and illustrated by Dougherty.  Local horror show host Lou Garoo (yeah, this is kind of a punny story) does a signing at Horrorbles, and the suspiciously named Ernesto Avina, a huge Garoo fan, takes his wife and baby to meet him.  Avina chatters at the host for quite some time while Garoo stares creepily at his wife and kid.  As they leave, they make a horrible discovery:  their son is gone.  They rush back into the shop, which has just closed, desperate to find their kid.  What they don’t know is Garoo—and brace yourself, because you probably NEVER SUSPECTED—is actually a werewolf (what are the odds?), and he’s got a definite plan for young Bruce.  For the most part, this one’s pretty silly, but it’s got quite a grim, violent ending that more than makes up for it.

The art for the entire book, all done by Dougherty, is masterful and perfect.  He is great at depicting mundane scenes, and he’s superb at illustrating the horrific scenes.  There are also a few great pin-ups scattered between the story, and they feel like they belong in this book pretty well.

So if your favorite uncle is Forry, this is a must-read book.  If you miss it at the conventions, you can probably amble down Roosevelt Rd. and Oak Park Ave. to Horrorbles and get it right at the source.

Written and illustrated by various artists
Published by Silver Phoenix Entertainment
44 pages

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