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POWDER ROOM - 2003
Writer: Robert Steven Rhine
ya how weird the South is. And of course, I mean the Southern United States
where I was born and raised. When I was growing up, and the last vestiges
of the Hippie era and the 60's were echoing weakly through the 70s, conservatism
was re-bolstering itself, preparing to ride into power despite the setback
of Watergate. Gerald Ford was in office and even if he lost it to a Democrat,
at least it was a Democrat from Georgia! The staunch conservatives of
the short hair sixties were now growing their hair a bit longish, letting
it touch their ears and tickle their collars. Some even wore polyester.
They weren't hippies, but they were "hip".
And I was
growing up in a teeny tiny town called St. Cloud, Florida. Even in the
1970s the neighborhoods were still segregated. Black folk were simply
not allowed in town after dark. But what was allowed in the local Eckard
Drug Store, right there on the magazine rack next to Hot Rod and National
Lampoon, was a series of the most bizarre Horror comics I'd ever seen.
They were cheap, the cover colors were often washed out: The printing
was so inferior that you often saw the pencil marks next to the ink -
not for artistic statement, just because the publisher couldn't be bothered
to make it any cleaner. These were no where close to the quality of, say,
CREEPY or EERIE magazines coming out from Warren.
illustrated stories were way over the top. Stories of some guy feasting
on the entrails of his dead relatives; a piece of a murdered man that
came back to life and, little by little took a missing piece from one
of his attackers until he had rebuilt himself; all done in black and white
and raw as hell.
moved and I never saw those comics anywhere ever again. I never missed
them, but I never forgot them either. One day I came across Robert Steven
Rhine's comic, SATAN'S
and just by reading the first story, all of those memories from decades
before were unlocked and free to roam.
itself, as you can see, is bizarro and twisted. The title of the comic
book totally incongruous with itself, yet you know that something like
this is just bound to be full of humor.
It is. But
it is also full of the most atrocious Horror you ever read. And I say
Horror with a capital Aitch!
story is called Spare Parts, and is about an emotionally disturbed mortician
who gets too involved with his work, then creates a twisted religion out
of his work, then goes even deeper into madness from there. These are
the kinds of stories you have read before, but where others would stop,
Robert continues. So many times, when reading these kinds of stories,
I always imagined, "But what if the protagonist even went so far
as to do this?" Robert doesn't give my active imagination any breathing
room. And neither did artist John Cassaday, who squeezed every last drop
of meaning from Robert's words.
is The Symposium, where we find out that vampires must ritually dine on
far more than blood. With Frank Forte's illustrations (also
did the wild cover and is the publisher of Asylum Press), we are
treated to a horror way, Way, WAY over the top.
it's possible that Robert found a kindred spirit in Frank, as they seem
to compliment each other's styles nicely. Both seem willing to go to the
edge and leap and I can only imagine the brain storming sessions they
story is The Tattoo Artist, and while the art by Rich Longmore is perfect,
this story could be found in any issue of CREEPY, VAMPIRILLA, or EERIE.
It is the first two, and the desire to dwell on every last facet of the
grue in a way that is humorous and repulsive at the same time, that elevates
this comic. I'm eagerly looking forward to more from Robert Rhine, and
I give this comic 4 Fanboys!
copyright 2003 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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