Ghosts and Ruins

By Ben Catmull (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-678-2 (HB)

If you know the works of Sidney Sime and Edward Gorey, the horror comics of Bernie Wrightson and Michael Kaluta or simply love to peer through your interlocked fingers at the films of Tim Burton or the creepy backgrounds in Charles Addams creations, you’re clearly an aficionado of silly, spooky business and know mordant fantasy plays best when played for laughs.

With that in mind, you might be interested in this macabrely monochrome coffee-table art book (and also digital formats) from cartoonist Ben Catmull (Monster Parade, Paper Theater) which classily celebrates the stuff of nauseating, stomach-churning terror and sinister, creeping suspense in a series of eerie illustrated plates crafted in scratchboard on Masonite… for extra-spooky darkness!

All that audaciously arcane art is wedded to epigrammatic prose snippets to comprise tantalising skeletons of stories best left untold and consequences safely ajudged as unimaginable…

The engrossing landscape hardback (268 x 222mm) combines gloomy gothic imagery with wry and witty updates on uncanny situations in a procession of locations best left well enough alone, and commences with six views of the dank domicile of diabolical ‘Drowned Shelley’ and a single ghastly glimpse of ‘The Buried House’.

A queasy quartet then divulges the doings of the ‘The Disgusting Garden’, after which one peek at ‘The Secluded House’ leads inexorably to a triptych revealing ‘The Woman Outside the Window’

Four frightful frames of ‘Wandering Smoke’ roam towards ‘The Order of the Shadowy Finger’ – five in full – before giving way to three glimpses of ‘The Lighthouse’; a visit to a domicile all ‘Hair and Earwigs’ and thence to numerous views of the monstrous masterpieces hewn by horrific revenant ‘The Sculptor’

On view is the ‘Labyrinth of Junk’ once concocted by a demonic carpenter, but that is as nothing compared to the sheer terror of ‘The Crawling House’ and the ghastly practises of a ‘Lonely Old Spinster’

Mordantly blending bleak, spectral dread and anxious anticipation with timeless scary scenarios, this terrifying tease is a sheer delight no lover of Dark Art could conceivably resist…
© 2013 Ben Catmull. This edition © 2013 Fantagraphics. All rights reserved.