Fun-Size Roundtable: Razorblades #4

This weeks Fun-Sized Round Table digs into the fourth volume of Razorblades!

A figure stands just at the corner of your line of sight, in the special area that lingers at the edge of your periphery. It’s never easy to tell if the creatures that linger there mean you malice but the flys sputtering under the hood that hides his face make the scales lean towards yes.

I don’t often receive requests for guest appearances. Be it the fact I spend most of my time amongst the dead or my less than savory attitude, I was caught a bit off guard when Daniel reached out again.

I am the Grave Robber. I am not going to explain my origins here because I hear we are discussing a horror magazine. Where would the fun of horror be if you truly knew what my intentions were? You didn’t think I would know that it was on your mind, did you? I can tell you I am not here to take you back with me to the freshly loosened dirt.

We are here to discuss Razorblades, a magazine co-created by Steve Foxe and James Tynion IV that has recently unleashed it’s fourth edition. These two brave souls seek to bring these stories to you through comics, prose, interviews, and so much more. It’s a testament to their creativity and medium. These magazines collect the ghoulish stories, conversations, and depictions of the things you fear. But you still seek them out. You sometimes yearn to come face to face with the thing scratching at the basement door…don’t you?

Don’t wait any longer then. Razorblades is a pay what you want anthology so anyone can enjoy feeling the fear grip their throat like a tourniquet. I will let the critics give you their thoughts. I am far too close to the subjects to give a fair shake. While you call them horrors, I call them friends.

Will be seeing you soon.

The Grave Robber

Gabrielle Cazeaux (@gabrielle_doo)

I sometimes feel that people doubt the capability of the comic medium to do horror because it’s probably not able to make you jump out of your seat as a movie or game does. But with the methodical organization of everything you’re showing and narrating that the medium offers, you can focus even more on another type of horror that I even prefer; it can make you feel unsettled. A comic can show you a picture that you’re not expecting to see in a way that can stick with you for days, weeks, or even more. Not every story here was my cup of tea, although I can perfectly understand that they are for other people. But there is more than one that did that for me, a story that unsettled me more and more as I went through the pages, and I liked that. There are plenty of approaches to horror in this, and I think all of them are worth at least giving a try. Even with the stories that didn’t particularly upset me, I think they’re still interesting to read. 

Rodrigo ArGo (@Ro1Argo)

Horror is a difficult genre to manage, you need to play with the audience and use their intuition and senses to your advantage, I’m happy to say that the fourth issue of Razorblades understands this. 

While all the stories in this issue are worth talking about, my favorite has to be Dermaverse by Daniel Kraus, Jenna Cha and Has Otsmane-Elhou. Stories about obsessions mix really well with horror stories, seeing how far someone can go to achieve their goal can be unnerving. I especially love how this story brings cosmic horror to a more corporeal level, and the way it uses body horror to visualize the obsession of the character.

Other stories that are worthwhile are Price of Entry by Aditya Bidikar and Rosh and the prose story The Dog in my Neighborhood by Adam Cesare with an illustration by AaRon Campbell. Another huge shout out to all the pin-ups and their artists, achieving a sense of fear or unnerving is hard with just one image, but these pin-ups  achieve just that. 

I might be a newcomer to horror content, but I do believe that nobody is doing it like Razorblades.

Ozzy Olsen (@punkzundead)

I was shocked when saw how much content was in this magazine. Razorblades is packed to the brim with delectable horror content of all shapes and colours, whatever sub-genre you’re looking for is probably represented in at least one of the works.

The first tale, Whiteout, got me set up for what turned out to be a delightful read-through of a collection of gorgeous comics, art and legitimately horrifying and unsettling tales. The mixture of styles is incredible, it’s a love letter to the genre that lets the creations and their creators shine. The addition of adding a short comic where the cover artist Becky Cloonan has a chance to explain her inspiration was so informative and refreshing to see. 

My personal favourite was ‘Origin of Man’ by Vita Ayala & Kelly Williams. I found the story, and it’s twists very engaging. The mix of mediums was very effective at selling the atmosphere of their story.

While definitely not for someone incredibly faint of heart or squeamish. I would totally recommend this to any horror lover! It made me a fan, and purchasing the next issue is definitely in my future. 

Zachary Jenkins

There’s an essay by Razorblades co-creator and editor Steve Foxe opening this issue that deftly defines how effective horror works in comics; how it differs from prose or film. Comics must show something and it’s up to the reader how long they stare into that abyss. This theory is given form in Daniel Kraus, Jenna Cha and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s “Dermaverse.” It’s a short that preys on a relatable, pedestrian experience. There’s something on your skin that should not be. Cha’s messy blacks and whites add chaos as you try to comprehend the imperfection. Watching someone pure fall deeper and deeper into a disturbing obsession that crosses beyond absurdity, beyond mortality, into a realm where logic and human instinct dictates that man ought not go, and in the moment where you believe you understand it all, that the cosmic awareness of this unsettling and upsetting atmosphere has stopped spiraling, they push yet again, into the fathomless madness.

And you are left to gaze. You think “she shouldn’t look like that.” You run your fingers across your skin with the knowledge of every scar. Every blemish. Every corruption of your flesh. Dear reader, horror isn’t what is contained in these few pages. Horror is the hole in the deepest recesses of your soul that this story will fill for all time.

Jessica Scott (@WeWhoWalkHere)

Horror comics face unique challenges in both their chosen genre and medium, and the opening essay from Razorblades editor Steve Foxe lays out exactly how hard it is for horror comics to elicit actual scares. The pieces in this issue, which range from illustrated prose to standalone illustrations to conventionally structured comics, won’t all scare you in the same way. If you read them with an open mind and all the lights off, though, you will likely get at least some of the terror you’re craving. Whether body horror gets under your skin or religious horror disturbs your soul or some other subgenre keeps you awake at night, these horror stories have something to offer most horror fans. My favorites were Trevor Henderson’s “The Cursed Painting” and Erika Price’s “Drag Me to the Confessional,” which both feature disturbing, expressionistic images but combine them with text in very different ways to achieve similar results: frightening and disturbing horror comics that will likely pop into my head at the least opportune moments to make me question faith, reality, and my place in the world. That’s all I can ask for from horror. 

J. Michael Donohue (@jmichaeldonohue)

‘Origin of Man” by Vita Ayala and Kelly Williams is a breathtaking example of horror that beautifully interweaves pros and comics. Ayala set the stage for this world with the opening pages and then Williams’s art instantly sucked me into this ancient world of monsters and men, perfectly capturing the feel of an old campfire tale. I could almost smell the embers as each page finished. Not only that but Ayala perfectly played on my love of perspective in stories. When we tell the tales of our lives we can’t help but see ourselves as the heroes, bravely fighting off the monster lurking in the dark. But the truth of the matter is that maybe, just maybe, we’re actually the villains. Bravo to this creative team. This is the perfect example of how “Razorblades” is still as sharp as ever and thirsty for blood. 

Reagan Anick (@rhymeswpicard)

From the very beginning, Razorblades has been one of my favourite pieces of horror media. If you know me, you’ll understand just what that means. I love horror, I have since before I was even allowed to watch horror movies; some of my clearest childhood memories are of reading books like Haunted Canada or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. As the opening essay by Steve Foxe says, horror is a genre that when well-executed is usually that way because of restraint on the end of the creators; movies like Jaws live on so well in our memory because of its dedication to showing as little as possible for as long as possible. As Foxe points out, comics can’t make use of this strategy; if someone wants to elicit fear, they can’t rely on suspense the same way they would be able to with a movie. There’s no music cue, no slow zoom into a dark corner, comics can’t use the same tricks film does. So writers and artists make their own strategies, they use their own tricks. Razorblades shows that even without jumpscares and spooky music it’s still very possible for comics to scare you. 

Issue #4 features comic book stories by James Tynion IV, Fernando Blanco, Vita Ayala, Kelly Williams, Josh Simmons, Alex Paknadel, Jason Loo, Erika Price, Daniel Kraus, Jenna Cha, Rich Douek, Alex Cormack, Aditya Bidikar, Rosh, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and more.

Illustrations by Maria Llovet, Daryl Toh, Trevor Henderson, Wipor Mont, Hannah Comstock, Aaron Campbell, and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz.

Razorblades also features a nonfiction comic by Becky Cloonan detailing the inspirations behind her cover, and a short prose story by Adam Cesare. Cover by Becky Cloonan. Design by Dylan Todd.

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