Categories
Comics

Is Superman: Son of Kal-El New Reader Friendly?

By Adam Henderson

Despite only first appearing in 2015 during the “Convergence” event Jonathan Kent, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, has been pulling a speed-run to steal Cable’s title of “most ridiculously complicated backstory in comics”.  From being delivered by Thomas Wayne as Batman from the Flashpoint timeline to his lost years held captive on Earth 3, it’s A LOT. 

Tom Taylor has taken the best possible approach to this backstory you possibly could with Superman: Son of Kal-El #1, and just slapped a big “Don’t worry about it” on it.  Taylor takes advantage of DC’s latest of many reality changing reboots during Death Metal and retells the story of Jon’s birth, focusing not on sentient planet but instead centering the story on Clark, Lois, and Jon.  Now it’s still far from a normal birth as Batman and Wonder Woman watch over Lois as she gives birth in the Fortress of Solitude while an (attempted) alien invasion rages above, but it’s straightforward.  Understanding the backstory of Jon Kent no longer takes a trip to his wikipedia page. 


Whether this is your introduction to Jon Kent or you’ve been there from his beginning, understanding this book is as simple as reading it.  There are still some friendly faces to reward those longtime Jon fans but nothing is buried in continuity.  This is a perfect jumping on point for Superman fans old and new.

Whilst the issue itself isn’t too plot heavy, it has a clear focus on defining Jon and who he is.  Instead of falling into the easy trap of making Jon a clone of his father (not literally, that’s Conner), it sets a clear distinction on what makes Jon different from Clark and how he will function differently as Superman.  By placing the focus as much on Jon’s human heritage as his Kryptonian. By showing the influence that having Lois Lane as a mother just as much as having Superman as a father, Taylor is able to instantly set Jon apart from Clark. 

That’s not to say his Super-influences aren’t present.  Taylor shows how Jon embodies the kindness that really defines Superman perfectly, and makes it abundantly clear he’s a worthy successor to the Superman role.  Jon’s mission statement reminds me a lot of Grant Morrison’s take on Superman, especially in All-Star Superman and Action Comics.  Both in what drives Superman to be a hero and having him deal with issues proactively instead of reactively, their Superman has always been my favorite and I look forward to Taylor taking a similar approach to the character.

Superman #1 frames Jon’s role in the DC universe in the way I’ve always wanted to see Dick Grayson framed.  He’s the son of one of the universe’s biggest heroes and is so connected to the universe as a whole, and that should be celebrated not shied away from.  Jon is destined for greatness from the beginning, and I will always love seeing him thrust into bigger and bigger roles.  With the Super Sons we saw the beginning of that, and I hope that Taylor continues to focus on Jon’s place in the wider universe as Superman as the series progresses.

The success of this issue is as much a work of John Timms and Gabe Eltaeb as it is of Taylor.  Timms work is dynamic as ever, and Eltaeb enhances that in every way.  There are some great layouts throughout the issue and some stunning splash pages which show how suited this creative team is to showing the full extent of a character like Superman’s abilities.  Dave Sharpe’s letters add a lot of personality to the book too and perfectly compliment the rest of the creative team’s work in every way.  His sound effects are used brilliantly and without spoiling it, some were genuinely hilarious.

Overall, Superman: Son of Kal-El feels like the beginning of a bold new era for Superman that aims to use Jon to bring something new, yet familiar, to the character and his history.  It’s a perfect place for fans of the character to jump back in with, and it’s set up for characters who know nothing about either Jon or even Clark Kent to start here.  With what has been set up in this debut issue, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: The Blob (1988)

I knew I shouldn’t have rented this movie. I told myself, “Don’t do it. It’s only going to make you mad, Aloysius.” That’s my name, you know. Aloysius. Not “the Blob.” Not “that malignant alien goo” or whatever they call me. Aloysius. 

Did you know that those jerks Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell didn’t even approach me for my side of the story? I haven’t seen a single royalty from that damn movie. That’s one reason I didn’t pay for the rental. I don’t want them to profit off my life any more than they already have. So I just digested the video store clerk instead. 

Anyway. “Aloysius,” I said to myself, “this movie is only going to piss you off, and then those people who are already brainwashed by Hollywood into thinking you’re this mindless carnivorous slime mold are going to look at you in all your quivering pissed-off glory and say, ‘See? We told you it was a monster.’” My curiosity got the better of me, though. It’s insatiable. At least they got that much right. 

So I finally sat down to watch the movie…well, “sat down.” They actually nailed my physiology, so you probably know that I don’t sit or walk or do whatever weird things you humans do. But I arranged my slimy pink mass into a comfortable position and then watched The Blob. And honestly? It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting! They actually kept a lot of my most heroic moments in the movie!

You might be asking yourself right about now how I qualify as a hero. Well, let me break it down for you: 

The guy who kept talking through slasher classic Garden Tool Massacre? I digested him.

Deputy Briggs, who enjoys threatening minors and mocking them for not knowing their fathers? Digested him, too. 

Scott Jeskey, who was clearly a serial date rapist? Digested the hell out of him, with an extra dose of gooey comeuppance for being such a terrible person. You’re welcome, movie fans. 

Now, did I also digest some perfectly decent people? Sure. That Paul kid seemed nice enough. And Fran the waitress was a sweet lady, as humans go. But I was probably doing them a favor. What kind of a town has a football field right next to a cemetery? I’ll tell you what kind: a town where your only two options are to live out your high school glory days and then die. Fran was doomed to a life of dating that busybody sheriff, and Paul had probably already hit his prime. They’re better off becoming one with my acidic juices than limping along until the end of their long, boring lives. 

And okay, yes, fine, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I killed a kid. Okay? Big deal. You’ve gotta remember: I only did what I was created to do. That’s another thing the movie gets right. I’m not some evil alien goop that flew in from Pluto, you know. The United States government created me as a weapon. You want to know why I’m aggressive and invasive and prone to eating people rather than trying to communicate with them? Because of you, alright? I learned it by watching you!

Speaking of communicating…that was pretty damn rude to have the captions label all of my monologues as “slimy gurgling.” They’re really showing their ignorance there. Just because you don’t understand a language doesn’t mean it’s unintelligible. They really missed out on some prime character development, too. I truly found myself that summer while I digested my way through that small town, but did Darabont and Russell care? Of course not. They wanted less of my hero’s journey and more of Kevin Dillon’s mullet. 

Still, as insulting as The Blob is — I mean, what is with that title? Was The Big Ugly Monster That Everyone Hates too long? — it does get a lot of my story right. It puts the blame where it actually belongs, and you and I both know it ain’t with me. Plus it does make me look like the badass that I am. I mean, admit it. That phone booth kill is pretty sweet. It’s okay, you can tell me you loved it. I’m not here to judge.

I’m here to digest. 

Categories
Comics

Is Moon Knight #1 New Reader Friendly?

My entire knowledge of Moon Knight is second hand from either friends talking about him or memes. More so, most of my Moon Knight knowledge comes from memes. I’ve built this wild image of the character in my head thanks to those memes. To me, Moon Knight is a violent Dracula hating man with a lot of baggage, dissociative identity disorder, and a proclivity to peel off people’s faces like a fruit roll up.

When I read the announcement that Jed Mackay was launching the character with a new #1 issue, I decided it was finally time to jump on the train to moon town. Jed has a way of balancing violence, humor, and humility in a lot of the comics he writes. I saw a lot of people saying it was an odd choice but as Issue #1 proves, it was the perfect choice.

Even with the limited knowledge of this characters convoluted past, Moon Knight #1 by Jed Mackay, Alessandro Cappuccio, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit is a very approachable first issue for new readers wanting to follow the character. I am giving it the full GateCrashers seal of approachability ribbon. I never felt lost or that I was missing major parts of context that discouraged me from reading further. With a character who has appeared in multiple tv shows, games, and now has his own Disney + show coming, this serves as a perfect gateway into Moon Knight for new readers.

Moon Knight, named Marc Spector, is serving as the Fist of Khonshu. While that title may sound far out there, the story gives you as much as you need to follow the story properly without getting too far into the weeds. Moon Knight has set up Midnight Mission which serves to protect the community of those who travel at night. We are also introduced to a new ensemble cast that gives the reader their own sense of community from the jump which is important to not feeling like you need to read 100 back issues to just enjoy a new #1.

The issue’s art is incredible and the use of white for his costume is a distinct parallel of the often dark situations he is in. The lettering is easy to read and guide’s the story along with ease. All of the parts together make for a great debut issue.

My real apprehension for picking up a Moon Knight title was how writers would handle his mental illness. This issue doesn’t dig too far into it but there is a running story of Moon Knight in therapy which serves to inform the reader of his backstory, current life, and a bit about who he is. With Jed’s push for representation in Black Cat, I do think he will handle the subject with care which is highly important.

So is Moon Knight #1 a good jumping on point for the character for new readers such as myself? Absolutely.

Moon Knight #1 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.

Categories
Comics

Tales From the Vault-Verse: Money Shot

Listen, this interview is unlike anything I have ever done. I want to be upfront with you right now, when Combo started chirping about my next interview, I wasn’t ready for this. Combo, for those of you who are just joining us because of the promise of naughty talk, is the sentient device that lets me travel to Vault worlds to interview their inhabitants. Sure, I have talked to barbarians, a witch who turned me into a baby, and a family after the end of the world but this is a little…different. 

When I put Combo on my wrist, the first thing they said was, “You either gotta strap-in or strap-on for this one big boy!” so I knew I was in for something a little bit off the beaten path. Well, there was a lot of beatin’ before my interview. Okay getting ahead of myself. I am interviewing a group known as “XXX-Plorers” from a scientific project known as “Money Shot.” They are a group of intergalactic explorers making discoveries that can save their nearly doomed Earth. But I know you’re all waiting for the other ball to drop. 

They also fuck the alien species they meet for their porn site to fund their explorations. Imagine if Onlyfans took Patreon doggy style; funding their science experiments at the Michigan Institute of Technology in Detroit through the sex work they’re doing. It’s really a genius endeavor to get their research funded. They’re truly saving the future through fuckin’, good on them!

I sat down with physicist Dr. Christine Ocamo, the founder of the project, and one other member of the team who introduced himself as “Supermassive Blackhole,” whose real name is Dr. Doug Koch. They had just returned from a “mission” when I arrived in Detroit to speak with them. Turns out a multi-dimensional traveler showing up for an interview doesn’t really shock a group who is fucking near omnipotent jellyfish beings.

Interview with Dr. Christine Ocamo

Thanks for letting me sit down with you, Doctor! I do open all of my interviews with an ice breaker! What’s your favorite sandwich?

CHRIS: Hm. Ha. Let me think….wait, why did you ask about sandwiches? Is this a food thing? Do I look fat? Fuck. I have to film a scene with a rail thin grey alien in like two hours, and that ass-probing waif is gonna make me look like an absolute manatee!

Ahem. Summer sausage. Love some good ol’ fashioned summer sausage.

On Earth, it seems that pornography has gotten to the highest extremes… Do you think that correlates with the condition the planet itself is in?

CHRIS: I think we’re living in an era of information overload. And I mean information in the sense of news and data, but also in arousing stimuli. So, I think people are starting to find it hard to know what to believe so they turn to things that are comforting and don’t challenge their ideals.

But, also, they’ve seen everything, and they’re bored so they’ll definitely watch someone fuck an airwhale in the blowhole.

Where did the idea to fund your own scientific endeavors with…well… fucking aliens?

CHRIS: I read the comments. And, I mean, god…it was the worst. Like, run-screaming-out-a-4th floor-window-the-worst. But, as it turns out, in the face of such cosmic horror, I found inspiration…and that inspiration was even if only weird billionaires care about space travel, there’s a buck or two to be made from goin’ four-on-the-floor with a Klingon.

Do you feel any burden to the human race to be the first contact with some of these species? Do you think your work is going to have a lasting effect throughout the galaxy?

CHRIS: Well, I mean, if humanity wants me to act a certain way, pay me. Personally, I think you could do worse as a diplomat to the stars than my vagina.

I don’t want to get too intrusive, but do you find all of this has affected intimacy in your day-to-day life, as you have to work with this group on excursions and in the lab?

CHRIS: Oh no. Of course not. We’re totally good..we’re…

{Cries. Cries for 6 full minutes}

Ahem.

Professionals.

After seeing so much of what the galaxy has to offer sexually and society wise, do you feel more optimistic or pessimistic about the future of humanity?

CHRIS:  If I’ve learned anything, it’s that humans are flexible. And, like, not just in the “can bend over backwards to perform self analingus” kind of way. Humans can adapt to almost anything the universe can throw at them. We can use that to our advantage, or let ourselves become complacent. If the taste of my own butt is any indication, the future is leaning in our favor.

Interview with Dr. Doug “Supermassive Blackhole” Koch

I asked Dr. Ocamo this, but I’m curious for you as well. This question always throws people off… what’s your favorite sandwich?

DOUG: Well, as a ‘flavor scientist”, I think my answer is probably going to be a little more esoteric than your usual interviewee.  I’ve literally tried almost everything on Earth, AND a decent sample size of the universe.

So, as a gourmet, what I like to do is put Cheetos on my bologna. SOMETIMES even the Flamin’ Hot.

Fuckin’ rocks, bro.

Men in porn are also depicted in a hyper masculine light, do you feel the need to live up to those standards? 

DOUG: Have you seen these guns? Haw, I kid. I think the true measure of a man is his sensitivity, his self-awareness and the girth of his man-wand. And Doug Koch is all meat.

Do you think the Money Shot project has changed your perspectives on your scientific work?

DOUG: Oh absolutely. I’ve seen things no human ever has. Experienced sensations previously unknown to life. How can I not change my approach, right? I mean, did you know that on the alternate Earth of universe b2687, they have Green Chile Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?! THE. FUCK. I mean, you can go ahead and toss out all those years at the Detroit Institute of Technology right there.

Have there ever been situations where you were afraid during this project so far? It doesn’t need to be just in a mortal danger aspect. I want to know if sharing this much of yourself with the universe was scary for you.

DOUG: Fear is for the uniformed. As a scientist, I don’t feel fear. I feel curiosity. Now, look, has intense curiosity ever caused me to shit my pants? Yeah. Once or twice.

What was it like working alongside your president? I don’t want to make any brash judgment, but you seem so kind while your president seems like such an asshole.

DOUG: I’ll tell you what, as a flavor scientist—did I mention that? —I’m used to enduring things that may not be pleasant. But, even the absolute stalest, soggiest, orange dustless Cheeto on Earth is more pleasant than President Luke Kirk was. On the other hand, we were able to show American Evangelicals the one thing that would shake their affection for that dick-bag. The dude bleaches his butthole. Turns out, and I didn’t know this, that’s a big sin. God loves a brown bung. Ya heard it here first.

Money Shot is on sale now from Vault Comics! Written by Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie, art by Rebekah Isaacs & Caroline Leigh Layne, Colored by Kurt Michael Russell, and letters by CRANK!

Thank you to Tim for agreeing to let me jump into their world!

Categories
Books

IMing about Horror in the Digital Age with Eric LaRocca

I am normally not one to read prose but something about Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca that forced me to pick it up. I devoured it entirely in a sitting. I quickly jumped on Al Gore’s World Wide Web and instant messaged Eric to learn more about their horror novella that lives rent free inside me now. That conversation transcript is below.

gateCRASHERS202: What’s your favorite sandwich?

eric_larocca: I’m not huge on eating meat; however, there’s something so appealing to me about a pastrami Reuben sandwich. I usually feel disgusted after consuming it, but the cheese and the thousand island dressing are *chef’s kiss* magical.

gateCRASHERS202: What attracts you to horror as a genre?

eric_larocca: I think what has always attracted me to the horror genre was that it’s a heavily maligned and misunderstood genre. Growing up, I often felt like I was on the outside looking in at the rest of my peers. I never felt like I fit into any special social circle. Therefore, I think I inherently gravitated toward horror because I saw myself reflected in the characters.

gateCRASHERS202: What in horror do you find yourself most often looking to explore?

eric_larocca: I find myself often exploring themes of abandonment in my horror fiction. Although I was raised by two loving and doting parents, I’ve always been fearful of being left out or being left behind. I think horror is a unique genre because it allows us to confront our fears and anxieties in a safe space. There’s something decidedly comforting about horror and I know others reading this interview feel the same way.

gateCRASHERS202: I often find that a lot of horror films and stories explore queer themes in the stories. Do you think Horror needs more queer stories? Do you think there are areas where the genre excels or fails this?

eric_larocca: Horror absolutely needs more queer stories. I’ve said this a million times before in countless interviews, but horror is an inherently queer genre to begin with. Though queer characters haven’t existed in the classics of our genre (or perhaps they were coded, insinuated, etc.), horror has always been a genre that explores the idea of “the other” — the maligned, the misrepresented. Horror is, therefore, a supremely queer genre.

gateCRASHERS202: With your story exploring some of the sexual themes of power dynamics, do you find that horror is a genre that has the ability to explore these themes in different perspectives? 

eric_larocca: Yes and no. I think almost any genre can deftly explore these themes in different perspectives. I just so happen to write horror, so my creative process works in a way that’s specific to the genre I love. That being said, I think this kind of sexual power dynamics could work just as well in a comedy or a drama depending how skilled the writer is at presenting these themes.

gateCRASHERS202: With the story dealing with manipulation heavily, did you always plan to flip the expectations of where the story seemed to be going?

I definitely always had an idea of where the story was going because I usually outline heavily before approaching any writing project. I actually typically outline long-hand, and I think I still have the papers I wrote the outline for Things Have Gotten Worse We Last Spoke somewhere in my house. Regardless, I had outlined each section of the manuscript and I knew I wanted to reach certain beats at certain points in the narrative. There were a few unplanned deviations in the narrative when I got carried away or wanted to explore some peripheral themes further. But the narrative you read is essentially what the outline covered.

gateCRASHERS202: The cover art by Kim Jakobsson… wow. Did you have any input on this piece or was it something you saw from the artist and said “That’s it”?

eric_larocca: Yes, the cover art by Kim Jakobsson is definitely one of the reasons the book has sold so well. In my estimation, at least. The publisher (Sam Richard) and I were discussing different cover art options and I decided to scroll through Instagram in search of artists with a surreal or supernatural bent. I immediately came across Jakobsson’s work and fell in love with this particular print. I believe it’s titled “Passing Oxygen.” I showed it to Sam and he agreed it would make a visually arresting cover.

gateCRASHERS202: When did the initial idea for Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke?

eric_larocca: The initial idea for the book really stemmed from my fascination with the internet and potentially coming across information that you shouldn’t normally have access to. I’ve explored this concept in other works of short fiction like, “miss_vertebrae” and “The Strange Thing We Become.” But I saw this novella as an opportunity to further explore my fears associated with the internet and how dangerous it can be when in unstable hands.

gateCRASHERS202: The novella itself is written in an instant messaging format… just like this actually. Why’d you write it this way?

eric_larocca: I’m a fan of any piece of fiction that employs unconventional methods of storytelling. For the longest time I wanted to attempt to write a book entirely in Instant Messenger chats but I worried readers might get bored with the formatting. So this book seemed like an excellent compromise.

gateCRASHERS202: The phrase “What have you done today to deserve your eyes?” Where did that come from? Is this something from your own life?

eric_larocca: I honestly don’t quite recall where the origin of that phrase began. It was something I invented to suit the narrative and thankfully it has resonated with readers. I wish I had this compelling origin story for the phrase, but it’s something I invented while writing without much explanation.

gateCRASHERS202: What has the response been to the novella? Do you feel like people have interpreted the story in the way you hoped?

eric_larocca: Although I didn’t expect the book to blow up the way it has, I definitely expected mixed reviews. Some people love it. Others vehemently despise it. That’s totally fine. It’s not my place to police other people’s interpretations of the book. They’re entitled to react however they wish to react to the book. Of course, I try to not read reviews unless I’m tagged. But curiosity often gets the better of me sometimes.

gateCRASHERS202: Bud. Why the rotten meat? The way you described it was so visceral to the point I could smell it so really thanks for that.

eric_larocca: Thank you! As I said before, I’m not huge on consuming meat. I don’t consider myself a vegetarian, but I definitely don’t consume meat regularly. There’s nothing worse than rotted meat, right? It definitely conjures a visceral reaction. That’s exactly what I was going for when writing the piece.

You can buy Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke from Weird Punk Books!

Categories
Comics

Fun-Size Roundtable: Razorblades #4

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.

Categories
Comics

Young Animal//GC: A Path Forward

For the first time in some time, the gate to the IP Graveyard hang agape. Despite being the dead of night, there is no sign of a cool breeze in the dead of summer. It’s as if a black hole has swallowed any form of relief. As you wipe the sweat from your brow, that’s when you notice the shadowy figure sitting in the rather large hole in the ground.

Welcome back! It’s been quite some time hasn’t it? Oh I am so sorry…some of you may have forgotten me. I am the Grave Robber. I’ve been the one who let the GateCrashers into the IP Graveyard to spend some time amongst the spirits brought to life by Young Animal! I hear we have been focusing on the wars amongst the stars recently… that graveyard is across town. The mouse won’t let me back in after the Goofy incident. Anyway.

Now, I have to be honest and say it’s been so long because I lost the password to my AOL account so I was not able to make contact with anyone to get things out of the dead center of town.

A long smile can be seen under his ragged hood as if had to laugh at his humor or else see what else lay underneath.

I have spoken with Nic Osborn from Comic Watch about the story of Liam… the Collapser. A man with a sucking black hole in his chest. Nic shared with me what all of this means to him about mental health representation that can be shown in the comics medium. Quite a beautiful piece. Nic will make sure to remind you but never forget, you are not alone. Be seeing you very very soon.

DC’s Young Animal COLLAPSER – A Path Forward.

By: Nic Osborn

Helpless. Defeated. Failure. Worthless. Sucker. Unwanted.

In 2019, DC’s Young Animal imprint released a six-issue miniseries titled ‘Collapser’ from Mikey Way, Shaun Simon, Ilias Kyriazis, Cris Peter and Simon Bowland centered around a lead character named Liam James who suffers from anxiety and depression. He questions everything he does and despite having goals in life that he strives for and people who love him, he is someone who can easily get lost inside his own head. Someone who falls into the pitfalls of his own negative perceptions and struggles to overcome them. Then, his life changes as he is thrust into the role of a superhero who harbors a literal black hole in his chest along with all the devastating powers it offers.

But Liam’s tale isn’t your typical superhero story.

Orphan. Jilted. Moron. Cheated. Loser.

Liam’s story is a signifier of the range superhero comics offer but also the potential they have to take on mental health issues and find a path forward. His cosmic fight is epic, but also relatable in its sincerity and sense of inescapable pressures that we all find ourselves under. It’s a comic that finds its heart quickly and pulls you into a spiraling doom that captures the weight of mental health issues which impact many of us in our own daily lives.

But what I’d like to talk about isn’t the success of the Collapser series and the in-depth character exploration that the creative team pulls off in just six issues. I’d like to talk about the capabilities of the comics medium and superhero stories that can shed a light on mental health issues that can so often go unnoticed, and what we can do to continue on when faced with them.

Angry. Kill. Garbage. Awkward.

Superhero stories are well known for their classic depictions of good versus evil, of the heroic figurehead punching out the baddie and saving the day, of finding a way forward. And that way forward is where we find the most important and timeless elements that have driven the genre for decades. Collapser taps into that potential, as a struggle of good versus evil, but also as an internal battle against forces that aren’t as easily understood. Those of us, like myself, who understand the struggle of anxiety and depression all too well know that internal battle and what it takes to make it through day by day. 

With a foundation rooted in that internal struggle, Collapser takes the strengths of the superhero genre combined with the unique storytelling methods afforded by the comics medium to give insight into anxiety and depression that feels genuine and heartwarming in the face of overwhelming helplessness. Reading through the story feels like a descent into a depressive episode before coming out of the other side with an ending that serves as an uplifting look at what we can do to continue to push onwards. It’s a story about how to find the path forward.

Jerk. Idiot. Unlovable.

Sometimes the obstacles we face in life are not supervillains twirling their mustaches and wishing harm on anyone who may cross their paths, and sometimes they are more difficult to pinpoint. Anxiety and depression can feel suffocating. It can put you on your ass and make you not feel like anything is worthwhile, whether you deeply love it or not.

The presence of a black hole in Liam’s chest is a rather straightforward analogy for the effects of anxiety and depression, giving a visualization to the feelings such mental health issues invoke. For me personally, the result was a moment of representation that I didn’t even know I wanted, or needed, so desperately. It was a way to illustrate and convey the feelings that I had been trying to express myself for so long but just couldn’t quite articulate so precisely.

And that’s why we love not just comics, but art in general. As a method of expression and a guide to our own emotions both superficial and so much deeper.

Life. Dead.

Comics are particularly insightful for an undertaking such as this, however. By utilizing the superhero genre to find a path forward when confronted against forces that feel intent on holding you down, the Collapser comics serve as a shining example for how the medium can accurately tackle even the most nuanced of mental health issues that we can all face. Remove the grandiose nature of the heroics surrounding the good versus evil and strip the premise down to its analogical core and we find a path forward defined by the recognition, understanding and empowerment of our own selves not in spite of our own tendencies, but because of them.

You can’t just pretend you are not impacted by anxiety and depression or push it aside to deal with later and that’s not what Liam does in the Collapser miniseries. It’s important to take the time to work on yourself and if required, get the help needed to become more fulfilled in life. The lesson in superhero comics beloved by so many and echoed by the Collapser comics isn’t to just punch out the bad guys, it’s to find the best parts of yourself to overcome the negative forces that would stop you from being yourself and pursuing your goals, or in this case, from experiencing happiness.

Help. 

The words that you’ve been reading throughout this article, the ones that linger in the back of your head though you aren’t even sure why they exist, are a constant sometimes present and other times fleeting representation to the voice of anxiety and depression found in the pages of Collapser that can permeate our own thoughts every day. Words that stop many of us from seeing the best parts of ourselves. But like the representation felt from the story found in the pages of DC’s Young Animal miniseries Collapser, it’s important to understand you are not alone.  

You can love yourself and be loved as well. 

And when you feel more isolated than ever and the escape into stories that represent your own sincerest emotions are not enough, you can ask for help. Loved ones, friends, family, both online and in your immediate circle are there and you aren’t any lesser for bringing them into your lives. Resources are there when you feel lost, like the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255 and they are within your grasp. When you feel like a black hole has taken residence in your own heart, remember it is not an incessant reminder of your own inadequacies but instead the first step towards understanding a path forward in positivity and self-love that every single one of us are worthy of, including you.

Categories
Comics

Tales From the Vault-Verse: Witchblood

After I got home from my time on that alternate Earth that was rattled by those waves. I had to take some time off. I needed to spend some time with my family because who knows when the next cataclysmic event hits my Earth? I think Combo, the device which gives me access to the Vault-Verse, sensed I needed some time because it’s been quiet. 

But this morning while I made my coffee before heading to the office to do today’s broadcast, it started to call for me. Normally it just obnoxiously screams until I open my desk drawer but today was different. I could hear the echoes of “Magic Dance” by David Bowie playing from the drawer I stored it in. That little shit knew I couldn’t resist David Bowie and those swea- nevermind. I opened the drawer and for the first time it didn’t have anything insulting to say. It asked if I believed in magic. 

I mean, of course I do, I report on superheroes, demons, and all sorts of things. Combo informed me of an Earth where a group of vampires are tracking down some witches to drink their blood for powers. There was one in particular wrapped up in all of this, her name was Yonna. She was the one who I was set to interview.  At first, I was hesitant to do another but then it said I could wear a bolo tie so that was the end of that. 

Texas is fucking hot. I wasn’t ready for the heat but it was okay.

Interview with Yonna

So before we get started, I just have to let you know I am not from your Earth. I assume you know of the multiverse?

Assumptions are easy to make, sure! 

Would you like to introduce yourself?

Yessir, name is Yonna.

I like to start off with something pretty heavy… What’s your favorite sandwich?

Three eggs real yolky — on top of buttered and salted, slightly toasted texas toast, and a dollop of “country” gravy with extra thick sausage chunks. Additional meat on the side.

I love your outfit, how would you describe your whole style? Like your hair is so vibrant, is that magic or what?

Nothing magic about self-expression, it just comes out naturally so why force it otherwise. You like what you like!

I noticed a pretty sick bike outside that says Ramblin’ Rose. Is that yours? Where’d you get that ride?

I think this one was a gift, or maybe I stole it…? I can’t remember there’s been so many Ramblin’ Roses that at this point it’s the more the idea of it than anything. This rose is certainly my favorite since when they’d die from lack of food. That is to say horses or the like.

So your magic, where does that come from? Do you have spells you cast or is more of a mix a bunch of different bits together for a certain outcome?

Comes from the nature of things! An alchemist is thought to be able to fiddle and tinker with the primordial elements, heat and the lack thereof, ya see! So, with the elemental properties of things I can mix them up, a little boil-boil toil and trouble, if ya’ get me and boom! I’ve got a neat little drink that obtains a variety of inherited properties based on what I was fiddlin’ with — back when I was first learnin’ the ropes it was somewhat of a surprise what I’d get, but now I’ve got a long list of keepers. 

Is this like a profession for you or do you have a day job?

No. I am homeless. Or whatever you call it. 

I know this is probably taboo but would you mind showing me some sort of magic?

Yonna smashes a bottle on the ground, on the front are the words “Tiny Baby” and turns whoever this person is into a temporary baby

You’re a baby now. This was the potion I smashed and it lasts until you make a little baby pee. I will be long gone once that happens though, so you still have the ability to talk and be normal.

This is magic.


Well shit, I’m a baby. This is going to be an issue but lets keep going…I’ve been seeing a lot of whispers about something called a Hex Hunter online, have you had to tango with any of those?

This tiny baby is speaking to me, how novel! Hoo hoo boy, I need a better name for a potion like Tiny Baby. I could basically turn anyone I want into a baby, this is maybe too powerful of a potion. I should write down the ingredients of this potion and make sure never to brew another one ever again. It’s just… what if this fell into the wrong hands. 

It would be too powerful of a magic. 

Okay, sorry to interrupt, but the bird…is that a raven… it keeps squawking almost as if at me directly… are they with you?

Bhusunda! My trusty and mischievous familiar! Take these pouches of the freshly brewed Tiny Baby baby potion and drop them off the tallest cliff in West Texas! You must, please! I can’t know where you’ve dropped them otherwise I’d be too tempted to go back and get them and use them to turn people who cross me into tiny babies. 

I would for sure do that, too. Especially if there is no real lasting consequence of my actions.

So I hear tell that you’ve been feuding with Vampires, what are they like here? Are they the only other sort of non-humans here or are there wolf people, or like swamp monsters?

Bhusunda is back, the potions are gone and the day is saved. You should be returning to your regular self shortly, like I said, you have to make a little peep-peep until that happens, so make sure there is an adult around to clean you up or whatever needs to happen for you to be… right with yourself. 

So yeah. Goodbye. I’m sorry I turned you into a baby.

Well thanks for meeting with me, I hope everything goes well for you. Any final remarks?

Try not to sit in the sun! Baby’s have very sensitive skin and you will surely roast alive! Find some shade under a tall tree or a decently sized sign in a field!

Adios baby!

Thank you to Matthew Erman for turning me into a baby, I guess…



Categories
Comics

Tales from the Vault-Verse: Resonant

SPOILERS FOR RESONANT FOLLOW

The “Combination” device that gives me access to the Vault-Verse has been quiet for a few weeks but last night, it started chirping. By chirping, I mean this thing was screaming at full volume to be let out of my desk drawer. This thing sure is aggressive. I think this device is a bit too sentient. Combo, as I am calling them, has an opinion on everything. It asks me “Oh, you’re really wearing that? No, No, it’s fine. I just wasn’t sure you would wear that out.” and things like that. I don’t know if it wants to be friends or hates me. Anyway…

It’s given me my next assignment. The next world that we are venturing to is code-named “Resonant”. It seems to be a reference to what Combo is calling waves. They said when a wave hits you either “strap in or strap on” because all of your violent thoughts burst out like a volcano of aggression. It’s like a soundwave that just sweeps the world and makes things bad…really bad. It’s one of those worlds that is either closing in on its finale or about to spring back to life like a phoenix.

This interview is going to be a little different than the last one. The family I am speaking to has been through a lot together in the last few months. From what I understand, the Father of the family, Paxton, went to find medicine for his youngest Stef but a whole series of events kept him from coming back. His 2 other children Ty and Bec held down the home but also separated… everyone is together now. 

Combo opened my rift into the world in front of the church they were all staying at after everything that happened. It’s been a week since the family fought Maw, had their house burned down, and Paxton returned. When I first step foot through the portal, I heard a bark come from inside the church as a dog rushed towards me. I’ll be honest and tell you that I was a bit afraid at first as the dog lunged at me but it was only wanting to be pet. Paxton called “Fern” from inside, the dogs name. I pet Fern to show her that I was not a threat as Paxton came outside to see where she had gone.

Explaining who and just what I was doing there wasn’t simple but Paxton must have assumed that I was a bit mad because he agreed to have the family sit down with me to discuss everything. This interview will be broken into sections because I spent some time chatting with everyone about the events that had transpired.

Family Sit Down

Thank you all for speaking with me today. I wanted to first ask about the waves… What does it feel like when they hit?

PAXTON: That’s a tough thing to describe if you haven’t lived through it. It’s like…a switch flips and…darkness comes out of you. Things that you thought one time years ago, like jumping off a building, or something recent like wanting to hit someone, those things shoot to the front of your mind and you start acting before you know it. You watch yourself do those things, it all seems natural until the Wave stops and reality sets back in. 

BEC: Itchy, they always feel like suddenly your whole body itches then needles explode out through your skin. 

TY: You ever go to sit down and your stupid sister pulls the chair out from underneath you and there is that moment when you thought you would hit the chair and you just drop and your stomach falls? That.

How do you all feel now that you’re back together?

PAXTON: It’s the greatest relief I could imagine. Every day away from my kids was…I just kept imagining the terrible things that might be happening to them. I should have known they could handle it.

STEF: It’s cool! I have a dog now!

BEC: Dad’s been working with me on my mediation. It’s gotten much better, I think all that practice with shooting arrows really helped. I can make it through Waves now without tying myself up!

TY: It’s nice. But Bec still thinks she’s the boss. 

What do you hope the future holds?

PAXTON: Rebuilding the cabin. But bigger and better than before. We have a group now, I learned some things from the Spiral. I think we can teach more people to resist the Waves with mediation, we can extend a little bubble of protection around this area and start…living again. Hope. Hope is what the future holds.

One on One with Ty

After sitting down with the family, I went to speak to everyone one on one for a moment. Ty was outside speaking to one of the other kids around the church as I walked up to speak with him.

I saw you playing with another kid earlier, is she your friend?

TY: Yes? Kinda? She and I…well we got married I guess. I didn’t know…Anyway, she’s nice. Sarah is her name. She’s staying with us now.

Oh right… I wanted to see how you felt with reuniting with Isaac after what he did?

TY: It was weird. I’m glad he came to help us when we were fighting with Maw and that crazy Preacher and his creepy followers. But he’s still just looking out for people who believe what he believes. We offered for him to stay here with us, but he cared more about trying to change what everyone believes in, so he left with some of the Congregation. Sarah’s dad, Noah, and a few stayed with us. It’s nice to have other people around, other kids to play with.

I know all of this must have been traumatizing, do you feel like you learned anything from this whole ordeal?

TY: Oh man, lots! How to shoot a bow, how important taking care of your family is. Most importantly, be careful who you trust.

One on One with Bec

Bec approached me after Ty had run off. She looked very tired after everything that had happened but she was kind enough to speak with me.

When your father first left, what were you thinking would happen?

BEC: I really thought he would be back before we really noticed he was gone. He’s left on other trips before, even overnight. He was so worried before he left, I thought he was being ridiculous. Turns out, my Dad is a pretty smart guy.

Are you afraid Maw will ever surface again? Do you think there was any logic in their beliefs?

BEC: If Maw comes back, I’m ready for him! I’m an even better shot now! Logic? In ripping out eyes and eating people? I mean…I guess I can see how some people like others to make decisions for them. But that was just crazy!

You have been extraordinarily brave from what I understand, do you think now you will have a moment to take a breath and let someone else be the brave one for a while?

BEC: I don’t think bravery is something you can turn on and off. I never thought of myself as brave anyway. You see something that needs to get done, and you do it.

A Quick Question for Miki

Miki didn’t seem to want to speak with me but I got one question in before he walked away.

What does it feel like when you feel the wave coming? Do you sense when it is coming to a close?

MIKI: It’s like a dip in your stomach, like the first fall of a rollercoaster, if it’s a really strong Wave, it can feel like being car sick. It slowly builds as the Wave approaches, I’m pretty aware of it now after all these years. It fades the same way it builds, luckily they usually don’t last too long. 

Campfire with Paxton

After everyone had eaten dinner and found their respective places to sleep for the night, I sat with Paxton by a fire. I could feel the pain radiating off of him as if he had lost so much on his journey to return to his family. My job isn’t to sugar coat things though, my job is to tell their stories.

Paxton, I wanted to start off with talking about the island. If it weren’t for the heinous leader, do you think it would have been a sustainable place to rebuild?

PAX: No. There was no way to grow all the things you needed to survive. Trade with the ‘neighbors’ was out too, they had lost all sense of civility. Honcho was a beast, but he had figured out that violence and thievery was a way to exist out there.

Do you think these people with abilities like yours and Miki, do you think there are more out there?

PAX: I would imagine so. When we talk about my ‘ability’, that has come from training, it’s nothing I was born with. I’ve taught Bec how to do it, Ty is coming along and even a couple of former Congregation members and Miki have started on the path to stillness of the mind. If you stay here I could teach you too. Now Miki’s ability to sense the Waves…that may be more unique. But who knows, maybe that can be taught too. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how humans and Waves interact, there are possibilities of further…influence on the Waves, I believe.

I debated asking you this but I have to ask. Claire… Did or does she mean something to you? I know it may be painful but I get the sense that she wasn’t just a doctor you needed for Stef.

PAX: Clare…Doc…She means…I don’t have the space in my heart for her. My kids are too important. I hope she finds some level of peace at the Spiral. She was more conflicted than she ever let on. I think doctors, in general, keep their focus outward, on helping other people. I didn’t see how much help she needed. I regret many decisions, but failing to help Claire when she needed it most is that one that will stay with me forever.

Do you think you will ever return to the Spiral?

PAX: I can’t see a path back to the Spiral that doesn’t involve abandoning my children or bloody violence. I’m not walking that road again if I can avoid it.

Before I go, I just want to ask… do you think you’re going to be okay?

PAX: I guess that depends on your definition of ‘okay’. (laughs). I think we’ll survive, we’ll try to make the best life possible for the people we can. And we’ll protect ourselves against anything, or anyone, that threatens to take that life away.

After Paxton answered, Miki rushed out from the church to warn us. I could hear the chirping of bugs locked inside a chest. A wave was coming.. It was my time to leave this family. I wish that I could have stayed, that I could have done more. But I am only an observer of the Vault-Verse… I cannot do things to change it. Or at least that is what Combo keeps telling me. Until next time, this is Dan McMahon from GC52 News Networks. Be strong in all your convictions.

Resonant was written by David Andry, all art in this article was done by Skylar Patride, colors done by Jason Wordie, and lettering by Deron Bennett

Categories
Film

The Blue Light that Never Went Out

It’s always been there, just on the edge of town. One small strip mall off the beaten path. But you remember going there when you were young. Mom would always let you pick out one movie to rent. It was the highlight of the weekend. You were so excited to tell all your friends what you watched when you met up Monday on the playground. Sometimes Mom would get take-out from the Great Wok II right next door.

After rushing from the car to the store front, you’d always look at the return slot and think “what if someone pushed a movie through there?” but that never happened. When you walked in the droning iridescent light made the yellow walls seem like a welcoming sight. Rows upon rows of aisles filled to the very brim with v/h/s tapes littered the store but those weren’t for you. They each had a label atop that said their genre “action”, “horror”, and so on and so forth. But where you would rush to was the wall. It was time to test your luck with the New Releases. A heavenly spotlight shone on their wall, as if touched by the video Gods themselves. If you were lucky, maybe Mom wouldn’t even check the rating so you could watch Mortal Kombat like all your friends had. These memories are ingrained in your mind. Walking around the store, the smell of popcorn, and the strange people of your town picking out their films. It was nearly over when you arrived at the counter. There was a sign for upcoming releases, a plastic crate filled with returned movies, and some form of the “be kind, rewind” phrase. They’d warn your Mom about late fees, you don’t want the late fees…

But you know as well as I do, that time corrodes all things. You grew up. Started to get too cool to hang out and watch movies with Mom. Started to get too cool to stay in on Friday nights to watch movies. You started to go out. You met new friends, learned about life, and all sorts of coming-of-age things. For a long time, you never even ventured to that part of town where the blue ticket stub light would flicker in the parking lot, a hauntingly beautiful  reminder of days past.

One of your friends mentioned the store to you a year or so ago. These memories came flooding back so you took a drive. You nearly missed the parking lot because the lights were out. The ticket stub was gone. Great Wok’s letters were missing but their shadows still lingered, and the movies… the movies were gone. Turns out it’s been closed for a number of years. The owner just went missing one day. He was always a weird fellow. Once you realized that your childhood had ended, those nostalgic feelings washed over you while sitting your car. You called your Mother to tell her you love her. Time is fleeting, tell someone that you love them.

Now, today, the lights are back on. There is a new sign outside that reads “GateBuster”. The Chinese food place is now a deli. There was no big Grand Opening event or anything like that. One night the lights were off and then the next day they were on. It was as if the reality you knew crossed over with a dimension of nostalgia. Now, I have to tell you the truth, or my version of the truth, because everyones experience is so drastically different. Some reports have said that there is never staff working. That the lights are on and the store is pristine without a single sign of human life. Others say they are greeted by a wonderful staff full of smiling faces in their blue polos. They help those people find what they need as if they knew exactly what they had come in for. There have been other reports, but there is one thing that is always nearly the same.

The list on the wall behind the counter.

Rumor has it that there was a tub of 25 films in a box on the counter from the previous owner. On the large tub were the words “Grave Robber” etched into it. But now those 25 films are behind the counter. The list is displayed carefully on the wall. It’s just there waiting for people like…well like you, whoever YOU are or want to be. This town is full of weirdos and upright citizens who are looking for a bit of entertainment. You can rent one of these movies, but we ask that you fill out our review card that accompanies every film. 500-1000 words about you, the movie, and your thoughts. All you need to do is to let us know what you’d like to rent, we will check if it’s available, and then you return it with your review card. Simple and clean.

But please… return them on time… you don’t want the late fees…

The Management