If you like comedic horror comics, you’ve definitely hit the right series with Eldritch! Demented jokes, butcher knives and murderous black goo — oh my! Creativity, original characters and an ominous storyline filled with mystery, horror and comedy blend together to make the type of comic I live for.
Aaron Alexovich takes the reader down the twisted, beaten path of a sibling rivalry turned deadly. What would you do if you found out your little brother’s body was infused with a malicious black slime that could solidify into anything, from tentacles to claws? Honestly, I’d probably take a step back with a dumb look on my face while thinking how cool it was… until it tried to kill me, of course. The proverbial gloves would come off after that. When Anya Sobczek is presented with this situation, she grows obsessive to the extreme. Believing only in science, she struggles to identify the evil black masses and, I'm guessing, an eventual cure to save her brother.
So far, I've been really impressed with Eldritch! The first issue got me sufficiently hooked with a combination of an intriguing storyline and some killer art. By the time the second issue rolled around, I knew I'd found a new iniquitous fascination that rested somewhere between Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Neurotically Yours' Foamy with an appearance of an a head that looks vaguely like a cross between Medusa and something from Alien. Curious yet? You should be.
In the third issue of the series, Anya travels into the dark basement of the Newbarn household. Were you curious about the Newbarn's baby? Nobody really believes their line about him having a skin condition affected by sunlight, right? Not when they have wiggling masses of mysterious slime laying around their house! Well, I hate to break it to you, but Skyler's a little special…
Oddly enough, Issues 3 and 4 center mostly around the Newbarn family. While Owen and Anya still devour a large chunk of story, we get a peek into the madness behind how the Mr. and Mrs. became infected with the evil goo. I actually felt sorry for Jess when she explains her story to Anya. They're not nefarious in nature, they're just a couple of normal people who had a little too much sex, drugs and rock and roll. It's also confirmed, after a few hints in issue one, that Jess is really the one holding the Newbarn family together and Ted's a bomb just waiting to explode. Some people can't deal with reality and would prefer to live in the delusional mundane. Poor Ted had his bubble popped in issue four and I couldn't decide if I should offer sympathies or laugh at the ridiculous antics of Owen's friends on a power trip. However, I have decided that crazy kids given superpowers of evil might be a bad idea, though it makes for a damn good story. Now Anya will be forced to come up with a cure or extreme chaos will ensue.
Despite the pandemonium of all the crazy antics from all the characters, my favorite still remains Anya and Owen's father. He's a typical dad with a love for '80s music and big-screen TVs. Instead of portraying his character like an overbearing, strict father, he's the type that sits back and gives his kids space. He's just happy gardening while his kids fight off what could be a bacterial or extraterrestrial morphing growth and he gets watery eyes over the destruction of lawn ornaments. He's too adorable in a completely innocent way that just demands love. How can you say no to that face???
The artwork is spectacular and I'm rapidly developing a fondness for Rausch's sketchy style that blends both cartoon and horror masterfully into every panel. Each character is drawn a distinct style. For instance, Ted Newbarn's facial characteristics are more rounded, generally over exaggerated, while Owen's are usually shaded more with straighter lines to give him more of an ominous feeling. Then again, Owen spends a lot of his time showing off black tentacled side than any other character, except for Skyler of course. Likewise, the flashbacks of Owen's past are rounded, lighter panels to give the reader a sense of innocence in a more secure part of his life. In first couple issues, the art seemed to lean more towards something I would expect from Jhonen Vasquez, but in these last issues, Rausch has developed more of an original style that's absolutely perfect for Eldritch! I can honestly say I wouldn't have been as impressed with this series if the artwork was done any differently. I'd tip my hat if I were wearing one.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend Eldritch to anyone that would listen. Alexovich does a fantastic job combining horrific fiction with lovable characters that can be easily related to. If you like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Invader Zim, Foamy the Squirrel or even Lenore and Happy Tree Friends, then you'll fall in love with this series. There's a demented humor that can't be taken seriously laced with appalling undercurrent of, "what if this were real?" Throw in the fact that every issue can be bought for a dollar on the creators' website and it was a deal I'm glad I couldn't stand against. I've found a new series I'll be eagerly awaiting more issues from!
Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. At Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.