By various, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse)
Scary stories have always been a staple of comics, and anthology collections invariably offer fearsome fun and the biggest Boo for your buck so I’m taking a skittish peek at one that has definitely stood the test of time.
Following a bucolic Introduction by series Editor Scott Allie, this glorious hardback grimoire of ghoulish delights and funny fables opens with an illustrated extract from ‘Macbeth’ (guess witch bit) chillingly adapted by Tony Millionaire, after which comics and movie fans get a treat all their own.
This captivating “Book of…” mystery compilation is part of a series that spun out of Dark Horse Comics’ legendary monster-hit Hellboy, and ‘The Troll Witch’ by Mike Mignola presents a terrific vignette of the hulking demon foundling who visits Norway in 1963 and has a tense conversation with a very peculiar Wise-woman.
Next up is a classic prose short story by Weird Tales horror star Clark Ashton Smith. Illustrated by Gary Gianni, ‘Mother of Toads’ offers the chilling and ghastly feudal tale of a lusty peasant, love philtres and the consequences of cavorting with strange women who live far off the beaten track…
Editor Scott Allie and artists Paul Lee and Brian Horton briefly abandon their Devil’s Footprint series to recount the chilling choice of ‘The Flower Girl’ who, pushed to the limits by her diabolically spoiled and obnoxious little sister, is offered a vile solution by a neighbour with very dark secrets of her own…
Set in Louisiana in 1838 ‘The Gris-Gris’, by Jim & Ruth Keegan, blends the rich dark earth of voodoo with the theme of witchcraft as a cowardly Southern Gentleman picks the wrong crone to trifle with when trying to cheat his way out of a duel of honour, after which 1938 Mississippi hosts the ‘Golden Calf Blues’, by Mark Ricketts & Sean Phillips, exploring the power of an accursed guitar and the Devil’s Music to seduce the supposedly righteous…
‘The Truth About Witchcraft’ is an extended and fascinating interview with attorney, advocate and Wiccan High Priestess Phyllis Curott, after which the comics wonderment resumes with a stunning tale from the height of the infamous “Witch Trials” in ‘Salem and Mary Sibley’ by Scott Morse, before everything ends in an engaging and hilarious romp wherein the neighbourhood mutts and a deeply confused cat join forces to thwart the Forces of Darkness and the local coven of Crones in ‘Unfamiliar’, scripted by Evan Dorkin and magnificently rendered by Jill Thompson.
As anthologies go, horror and mystery are never out of style and collections like this serve as the ideal vehicle for pulling resistant readers into our world of comics. When they can be this diverse whilst maintaining such a staggering level of craft, variety and quality, they should be mandatory for any proselytizing fan, and hold pride of place on any aficionado’s bookshelf
Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft ™ and © 2004 Dark Horse Comics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All interior stories and features © their respective copyright holders.