How I review
After reading a few of the comics I have to review soon, including today’s special “A Taste for Killing”, I’ve realized something. I am overly harsh on some comics, especially when I feel they haven’t given me enough of the story to review. This has caused some people to accuse me of not liking kid friendly comics and praising adult comics, but I would like to take a moment to defend myself. I apologize to Nikkol Jelenic for putting off her review for a paragraph or two.
Many of the comics I have reviewed negatively (many I do not post for reasons I will explain later) I do because I don’t feel like they deliver what they promise. Be it in length (I have turned away some, asking that they come back when they have over 30 pages for me to review), substance, or quality I judge much of a book on whether or not it delivers on its promise, be it the books claim, the authors claim, or what I think to be the claim. So, from now on, I will make sure to state what I think the comics “promise” is, and whether or not I believe they deliver.
A Taste for Killing
Do I have to say this comic is Not Safe for Work? It is. Blood, gore, nudity, the works. Nikkol Jelenic is in her prime where this book’s art is concerned, and that art fills in the gaps that the abrupt nature of the stories creates. Her books promise? To shock or scare you with gruesome, gory scenes. Boy does it deliver.
There’s No Such Thing
TNST is the first story in the book, and it begins like a horror film. A hot, blonde girl has car issues in the middle of the night and two red necks pick her up in their pick up truck. There is only one flaw in the story that gives me pause, and that is a bad transition. There is a scene that jumps from one location to the next and it takes a second to realize what happened. It’s not a long second, but it is a second that I wasn’t absorbed in the flow. Without this transition the story is rightfully shocking, and follows Jelenic’s trademark trend of making humans more monsters than the monstrosities that destroy them. Upon a second reading, with the transition in mind, it is a morbidly delightful scenario.
Hair of the Dog
There was one piece of art in TNST that struck me as horrid. Let me clarify. It shocked me and looking at it made me uncomfortable. Hair of the Dog has multiple pieces. The story is a little more confusing, and leads to some “What did I just read” moments, but the art is bloody and macabre. Jelenic’s trademark is still there, as well as another theme that begins to show which I will elaborate upon later.
There are two pages of prose at the end of the comic, a story on each page, that are pieces of flash fiction written by Leo Cherry and Brian Spicer, as well as three pin-ups of werewolves by Richard Bonk, Brandon Spicer, and Josh Shockley. These are all fine additions to the book, and certainly don’t detract from the experience. The books theme also stays for the most part in the two pieces of prose.
Y’all know I love me some deep thought, so here goes. Jelenic is one of the talented hands that PLB comics calls upon, so I am partially familiar with her work, which is why I refer to her “trademark”. In the story she illustrated for PLB’s latest Halloween issue, which she did not write, she did do a fantastic job of illustrating the evil humans to be just as terrifying as the monster. Her own stories are even more so. Every story in the book follows along one theme: Humans are the real monsters. Be they red necks, hunters, bikers, they are the ones who are actively seeking out others to harm, the monsters are the ones who stop them.
Another trend in this book is the use of women as bait. A Taste for Killing uses women as man’s fatal flaw, something he cannot resist and yet wishes to destroy. In the end, whether he tries to resist, or whether he tries to destroy, the women are the creatures who destroy him.
It is a skill to be able to tell a story in 6 to 10 pages. There are always unanswered questions, there is always more to say, the hard part is knowing if you have said enough. A Taste for Killing isn’t about making you afraid, it’s about shocking you. Fear takes time, shock is a visceral, instant response to a scenario or picture. The stories build just enough up that you are satisfied to see it torn down. The story is satisfying because you learn enough to be glad when someone gets what is coming to them. The art is spectacular. I found myself staring at the adornments of the hunter’s cottage in “Hair of the Dog” and thinking, “That is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen.” It is well worth a look if you are inclined towards dark, macabre, and gory. You can find it and more Here