[DEPT. OF FULL DISCLOSURE: I know several people whose work is in this book, and I consider them friends. That said, I do not give out favorable reviews due to bias. Luckily, I’ve never had to trash a friend yet. I think that’s because I’m really good at meeting and befriending talented people.]
There has been a surprising lack of anthology books in Artists Alley this year. They’re usually plentiful, but this time around, there were only two. MOONLIGHT MACABRE, as you can probably tell, is a horror anthology put out by CME. The trouble with anthologies is that they’re a mixed bag. The blessing with anthologies is that they’re a mixed bag. Very few kick ass the entire way through. How does this one fare?
It starts with “Bad Habit,” written by Donovan K. and illustrated by K. Anthony. It is the story of a guy who loves oranges a bit too much, yet is very uncomfortable with others judging his unnatural love. There isn’t much that can be said about this one. There isn’t a lot of story here, just a vignette of a guy masturbating with an orange in the produce aisle before attacking someone for implying that this is a no smoking grocery. Is it offensive? Yes, wonderfully so. It’s fun, but it exists simply to exist. The artwork is on one hand kind of childish, yet on the other hand incredibly grotesque, especially when the protagonist eats some of the orange before rubbing it all over his body. Not a bad start to the book.
Next up is “1849,” written and illustrated by Lee Eberhart. A meteor crashes down in the Old West near a mining camp. One of the workers then comes face to face with the monster who lived in the meteor, and they must do battle with each other in order to survive. And that’s about it. It has a bit more story than the first one, but it’s kind of lackluster. The artwork is pretty good, if a bit goofy at times.
“The Last Laugh,” written and illustrated by Michael McGourty, is probably the best of the bunch. Humanity is wiped out, and the survivors die slowly while trying to live by breathing through gas masks. The last guy on earth is a clown, searching for anyone with whom he can share the end . . . or is that the reason? It’s really beautifully done with an absolute minimum of words. The artwork is phantasmagoric, and the final panel is both sad and funny at the same time. Great stuff.
Then we have “Gomez Santana, P.I.” Santana is an unusual kind of detective. When he was younger, he was possessed by a demon. After it was exorcised, Santana was left with the ability to “[see] beings for what they really are.” This has driven him to hard drink and even harder narcotics to numb himself. Whenever the cops have a weird case, they call him in. Now, he finds himself going up against a mad scientist (Dr. Francis—er, Frank—Victor) and a monster. Writer Audel Oceguera, Jr., has come up with an awesome character (fuck psychic detectives; this is a much cooler idea), but where he falls short is with the story. How many times has the Frankenstein monster been used in such a fashion? The police work is also a bit too convenient. As soon as Detective Jones mentions the hospital, magically Santana knows who the culprit is. It’s an all right explanation, but in the flow of a story, it doesn’t work. There needs to be foreshadowing for something like that. However, artist Leo Perez certainly makes the tale look awesome. His depiction of the grimy alcoholic Santana is spot-on, shadows and all. Also, the scene where Santana is being exorcized is amazing. Oh yeah, and that priest looks like a badass!
The next story is “Happenstance,” written and illustrated by Rik DesChain. It’s pretty much a group of soldiers facing off against a sniper. The most interesting part of this tale is the philosophy of thoughts being able to influence the future. As a result, the protagonist tries to always think happy thoughts. It doesn’t always work out, though, as this story proves. The artwork is very well done, especially that final panel. The only annoying thing about this one is DesChain’s habit of using quotation marks in speech bubbles.
The last story is untitled and uncredited. It’s the story of one guy versus three zombies when he originally thought there was only one. This is probably the weakest of the stories as it’s been done about a thousand times, and it brings nothing new to the table.
Wedged between the stories are pinups that range from incredibly, offensively funny (Jon Lennon’s about the demon who discovers that “JESUS STO’ MY HO!!!”) to the super creepy vampire from K. Anthony.
All in all, this is a good collection. It has its weaknesses, but overall, it’s worth picking up.
MOONLIGHT MACABRE #1
Written and illustrated by various artists
Published by CME