As I write more about horror with each passing week, I discover things about myself. Recently, it’s been the discovery that my true home with horror is with slashers. The sub-genre is where I have spent most of my 30 years on Earth with hillbillies, shapes, and all sorts of avenging spirits dishing out their specific brand of punishment. The thing is, for the most part, I don’t think there is a comic slasher story that is as successful at the subgenre as it would be on screen. But with Where Monsters Lie, Kyle Starks and Piotr Kowalski have found a unique approach that works extremely well as a comic.
Oftentimes, what is forgotten about slashers is that it can be a very funny type of horror. Sometimes intentional, but other times, it’s more of morbid laughter that comes from moments where you’re saying, “holy smokes, I can’t believe that just happened!” Where Monsters Lie captures both the humor and horror incredibly with a very fun concept that I was shocked by in the best way.
What if the slashers joined a HOA (Home Owner’s Association)? What if Freddy had to make sure his trash cans were out on the curb on Monday morning? Or what if Leatherface had a problem with how high Michael Myers’ fence was? These are the situations that the setup of Where Monsters Lie can explore. The series follows a group of slashers who all live in a gated community. If that alone hasn’t made you rush to your local comic shop, I don’t know what else I can say to convince you that this is a must-read.
This is my first venture into a comic written by Kyle Starks, and I’m kicking myself for that. Kyle’s unique humor fits so well with a story that, for the most part, the first issue revolves around the different slashers of his and Piotr Kowalski’s world. Each of their personalities is distinct and leads to tension between each of the people living in the gated community of Wilmhurst. Without getting into spoilers, my favorite of the slashers so far is Richard the Clown. I love Clowns as objects used in horror, so I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when he remorsefully laments that “No one chooses to be a clown” after being told he can’t use a flamethrower. The story and character so far are a fascinating look at what happens when you toss the different flavors of slasher into one place.
Piotr Kowalski has designed a neighborhood full of distinct looking slashers. Each has their own unique style reminiscent of other slashers from pop culture, but honestly they never feel like outright homages. Not a single one looks like or is written like another character with the serial number sanded off, which is important to me. When I’m reading something that is more of a comedic take on horror, I never want to feel that “okay, I get it, this is supposed to be so and so” too much. I want to see designs and personalities that I would kill to see more of. I want characters who, at a first glance, I’m thinking about what their stories are. Where Monsters Lie does this wonderfully.
One thing I find a lack of in comics is those twists or jump scares you get with film. The moment where you’re screaming at the characters to “not go in there” or cursing them for being so stupid. Where Monsters Lie does it on the first-page turn. From the moment I saw that second page’s first panel, I knew I was in for a treat.
As I learn more about what draws me into horror and slashers, I find new things to appreciate about the different formats that horror can come in. Where Monsters Lie is going to become one of the comics I hand to a horror fan who hasn’t read comics before. It’s a beautiful bridge between horror, slashers, and comedy that I’m not sure any comic has perfectly nailed down for me before. It’s a slashing good time. (I’m sorry.)