Graphic Novels v.4 ♦ Spookiness Abounds

Figured it was time for another round-up of graphic novels, and this time I thought, since Halloween is right around the corner, I would focus on the creepier side of comics. Can it really be nearly October? This year is flying by, but I can’t complain, since Halloween is my very favoritest holiday!


The Complete
Bite Club

Don't miss this 264-page volume collecting both the original critically acclaimed BITE CLUB and its sequel, BITE CLUB: VAMPIRE CRIME UNIT!

The Sopranos have nothing on the Del Toros, a vampire clan that has run organized crime in Miami for nearly a century. Beautiful, rich and immortal, these bloodsuckers are also masters of backstabbing and in-fighting.

Author: Chaykin & Tischman Genre: Graphic Novel
Illustrator: David Hahn Type: Softcover Color 264 pages
Publisher: Vertigo Publication Date: August 2007

My Thoughts   
When the first single comic issue of Bite Club was released I picked up a copy and was instantly intrigued, Vampires – Sopranos style! For whatever reason I ended up missing the next couple issues and *wham* forgot all about it. Until …. I walked into my library and saw this gorgeous complete book that collected all of the Bite Me series as well as the sequel. Which was awesome because I could sit myself down and read it straight through without worrying or waiting for the next installment.

It ended up being as good as I’d hoped. The Del Toros’ are a family of vampires, and also one of the major families in the Miami underworld. They run legitimate businesses as a front for their less community friendly enterprises, but everything comes to a grinding halt when Eduardo, the head of the family, is killed (with wooden bullets no less.) Now the remaining family (blood members, and mob) are drawn together to figure out who will take over. And this is when it gets going, there is fighting, affairs, brown-nosing, secret plots, treachery, bitter rivalries, incest(?!), sex, blood and violence. So uhh yeah not exactly proper reading for the young ones.

It may sound like it’s all just action, but there are subtle (very, very subtle) traces of serious drama to be found. A good example would be Risa, daughter to the deceased mob boss. She’s hot, smart, and determined to run the business no matter what it takes. The only thing standing in her way is that no one really takes her seriously (being a girl and all.) Then there is Leto who faces a pretty tough decision. He is a vampire who turned to religion to escape the darkness of, not only his vamp side, but also his family. Now that his father is dead he must decide whether to stay true to his god or to his family.

All in all, Bite Club was a fun, short diversion into the life of a Miami-Vampire-Mob-Family.


Dead High Yearbook

Meet The Students Of Dead High

Watch as they encounter their grisly fates: death by vampire attack; body invasion by muscle-building “supplements” gone haywire; a car crash that leaves the victim somewhere between life and death; and a twisted love triangle ending in violence.

Dead High. It’s A Killer School.

Author: Various Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel
Illustrator: Various Type: Hardcover 80 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile Publication Date: March 2007

My Thoughts    
First off, I’ll admit I picked up Dead High Yearbook solely because of how much I wanted to examine the books binding. Sitting on a display stand, it looked like an actual yearbook. Beautifully textured cover (you know the kind with a cushy feel,) the pages were heavy, high gloss type and it was just irresistible (oooh look at the shiny, sparkly thing.)

So back to the book. On the inside front cover we see typical yearbook photos of high school kids. Turn the page and the reader is introduced to the rather strange group of kids who make up the school yearbook committee. Together they are compiling the info for the coming year’s edition. As each person is found we segue into a story about that student. The rest of the book follows this format of stories, intermingled with the yearbook staff. Now on the back inside cover we see the pictures that this committee has compiled and while it stars the same students from the front of the book, let’s just say that they’ve changed a bit over the school-year!

Dead High Yearbook was thoroughly entertaining and I enjoyed each story. The actual stories have that Tales From The Crypt feel to them, some ironic, some funny, some with a moral, some just gross. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to see another installment of this someday.


Emily The Strange


Emily The Strange -- Emily may be odd, but she always gets even! Meet Emily, the peculiar soul with long black hair, a wit of fire, and a posse of slightly sinister black cats. Famous for her barbed commentary and independent spirit, this rebel-child in black has spawned an Internet and merchandising phenomenon (Emily's Web site gets 35,000 hits per month!). Emily the Strange, her first book, captures the quintessential Emily, featuring her most beloved quips and a host of new ones. Anarchist, heroine, survivor, this little girl with a big personality appeals to the odd child in us all.

Author: Rob Reger, Cosmic Debris Genre: Graphic Novel
Illustrator: Rob Reger, Cosmic Debris Type: Hardcover 64 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books Publication Date: July 2001

My Thoughts    
What can I really say about this book? If you’ve ever seen anything featuring an Emily graphic then you know what you’re in for. Emily is strange, but in my opinion that’s not a bad thing. The entire book is filled with artwork done in red, white and black. The illustrations are very appealing, some are basic, but others are filled with tiny details. Most of the text is presented in short one to three sentence phrases, some funny, some weird, and some that prompt deeper thinking.

This particular Emily book gives a new reader a brief glimpse into who Emily is. There isn’t that much to the book, but I still enjoy it. Sometimes strangeness should be celebrated and I like that.


Emily’s Book
Of Strange

Emily's Secret Book of Strange -- The secret life of Emily the Strange is quite a bit more strange than was previously understood. Uncover the truth behind her mysterious world in this recently discovered volume, Emily's Secret Book of Strange, the revealing companion to the best-selling Emily the Strange. Enter, if you dare, the house that Emily built. Decipher the secret language of the Emily Strange Posse: Morose Code. Learn little known facts, like what's developing in Emily's darkroom. In the same graphic style, with the same high production values, and featuring all new art, Emily's Secret Book of Strange is an irresistible sequel for Emily fans everywhere.

Author: Rob Reger, Cosmic Debris Genre: Graphic Novel
Illustrator: Rob Reger, Cosmic Debris Type: Hardcover 64 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books Publication Date: February 2003

My Thoughts   
The format of this, the second Emily book is pretty much exactly the same as the first one. Great illustrations with short little messages from or about Emily. In this volume the reader gets to learn a little more about Emily in between random strangeness. Emily isn’t just a little girl with dark intentions, she’s about art, imagination, music, experimenting, learning and being creative. I think the reason I like the Emily books is that she is a girl who seems to say “I’m strange, and if you don’t like it – so what!” As an added bonus included in the back is a secret glossary of the symbols Emily has created. And with this code the reader can translate some hidden message spread throughout the book. Another example of Emily’s creative strangeness.


Hills Have Eyes:
The Beginning

Deep within the remote hills of the New Mexico desert, a group of townspeople thought wiped out by the United States government when it began above-ground atomic testing has returned to the now-irradiated land they still claim as their home. Within the eye of this nuclear storm good people will go bad, battle lines will be drawn, and a new family of mutated monstrosities must protect their own at all costs in a mind-boggling orgy of blood and vengeance.

The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning tells for the first time the epic origin story behind Wes Craven's classic tale of mutant carnage, leading into and bridging the gap between the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes and its sequel, The Hills Have Eyes 2.

Author: Palmiotti & Gray Genre: Graphic Novel
Illustrator: John Higgins Type: Softcover 112 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins Publication: July 2007

My Thoughts    
In case you didn’t know I am a huge horror fan, I love it in all it forms and what got me started on this life-long obsession was scary movies. The original Hills Have Eyes from 1977 has been a favorite of mine for some time, and the remake in 2006 is probably one of the only remakes I’ve respected in that it stayed true to the original screenplay. The basic idea behind the films is that somewhere in the California Desert there is a family of severely mutated cannibals preying on lost travelers. The film versions have focused on the travelers with only minimal historical mention of the hill people. All the viewer really knows it that their mutations were caused by nuclear testing done by the US military.

Now with this graphic novel The Beginning, the focus is turned around and the secrets are revealed as to how these people came to be cannibalistic killers. I enjoyed this story and felt it compliments the movies quite well. Now if only someone would write the screenplay!


Legends of the Dark Crystal:
Garthim Wars


This much-anticipated original prequel to Jim Henson's fantasy masterpiece is set 100 years before The Dark Crystal, the groundbreaking film that won the hearts and minds of fans all over the world and set the stage for the new age of muppet-making.

Author: Various Genre: Graphic Novel
Illustrator: Various Type: Softcover 192 pages
Publisher: TokyoPop Publication Date: November 2007

My Thoughts   
I’m not sure what was wrong with me when I read this. I’ve loved The Dark Crystal since I first watched it as a little kid, but somehow this comic just didn’t work for me. The artwork was gorgeous even though I felt the Gelfling didn’t quite look as they should. The story was interesting as this book is telling what happened before the film. But I dunno, there was just something missing. Or maybe this is just one of those stories I feel works better on screen than in book/comic form.


Peculia & The Groon Grove Vampires

Night is coming and the local baby-sitters club needs an extra sitter. That strange new family in town is expecting four warm bodies, not three — one for each member of their household. Each sharp-toothed, blood-thirsty, downright undead member of their household! Sala's popular character Peculia, a mysterious and clever young waif, returns in this, her first full-length story! This deliciously macabre graphic novel manages to both parody and celebrate elements of classic horror and vampire tales.

Author: Richard Sala Genre: Graphic Novel
Illustrator: Richard Sala Type: Softcover 80 pages
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books Publication Date: November 2005

My Thoughts    
Peculia and The Groon Grove Vampires was campy comic fun! A trio of girls who form the local babysitter’s club get asked to all babysit for the new family in town – but this family needs four sitters, so by chance the three girls ask Peculia if she could help them out. But upon entering the spooky old house where they are to sit, Peculia begins to think something strange is going on. And when the family reveal their big teeth all hell breaks lose.

What a fun read this one was! It comes across as a mixture of horror movie, campy comedy with a touch of Scooby-Doo Mystery thrown in for good measure. I really liked that this story didn’t try to be serious because the small hints of humor made it all the more enjoyable. There isn’t too much mature subject matter in this comic, but I would say it would probably be more appreciated by young adult readers and older.divider6

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


bermudaonion said...

I really want to read the Emily books.

Anonymous said...

Note to self: you must read Emily!

Ceri said...

I love that you always have great recommendations for graphic novels. I'm not a big reader of them and wanted to know where to start. You have such great ideas. Emily the Strange has been on my wishlist for months :-D

Darla D said...

Great selection - you've just added a ton of books to my list. Thanks! (I think)

Zibilee said...

Out of the set of these books, I think I am most intrigued by Bite Club. I do like vampires, and loved The Sopranos, so I think this would make a killer read for me. Thanks for highlighting these graphic novels, my information on the genre is pretty underdeveloped, so I am always looking for some good recommendations.

Heather said...

All of these look like great graphic novels! I'm going to go check into all of them. Thanks for the great reviews! :)

Ladytink_534 said...

I can readily pass on The Hills Have Eyes but I'd love to get my hands on these others!

Andi said...

Fun, fun, fun! I was just at the library today collecting graphic novels for the 24-hour Read-a-Thon, and I wish I'd thought to pick up more creepies. I think I have one of the Emily Strange books on my TBR as we speak. Woot!

Anonymous said...

My partner and I really enjoyed reading this blog post, I was just itching to know do you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find someone to make trades with and merely thought I would ask.