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Trick Or Treat

Actually, there’s not really a trick here. There’s a new Abby Howard spooooky comic for Halloween, which is definitely a treat. The conclusion of the story is less trick than whooo-boy, that’s gonna be some nasty globs of flesh and gore, so I guess we should have used the title Nasty Globs Of Flesh And Gore Or Treat, but it doesn’t really scan, does it?

I may be getting ahead of myself.

Ms Howard does some of the very best black-and-white comics around, with an especial emphasis on the creepy. Sometimes the creepy is muted by the funny, sometimes it’s really horryifying, but she always finds something to set the prickles up the back of your neck. Of late, both Junior Scientist Power Hour and The Last Halloween have been scarce on updates, owing to the work she’s doing on the sequel(s) to Dinosaur Empire, but she’s remedied that with her new short story, The Door In The Kitchen.

The eponymous door is based on a real one (scroll down), for which there is a precedent — The Grudge Hole that contains 80s Tom Hanks is based on an actual feature in a previous Howard domicile. I suspect that 80s Tom Hanks didn’t really live in her bedroom, and I also suspect that there’s not really a creepy monster living behind a door behind a fridge in Howard’s kitchen, but you never know.

What makes The Door In The Kitchen so effective are the ways that Howard breaks the normal rules of (scary) comics. Having survived an initial brush with the beastie, Our Heroine spends a sleepless, fearful night at a friend’s house (completely standard). She returns expecting everything will be fine in daylight, but finds said beastie still here (still normal), but when her improvised attempts at driving it away prove fruitless, she decides (and I quote) I’ll deal with this later.

This should have resulted in immediate, karmic death, but instead she spends a sleepless night on the couch in a single panel on an all-black page, simultaneously breaking the standard rhythm of scary stories and comics.

I’ll spare you any spoilers for what happens in the remainder of the story, except to note that Howard’s observation that people can get used to anything if it’s more convenient is spot on, and her use of black and white serves the story’s mood in a way that few other creators manage with a Technicolor palette. To say nothing of the beastie’s design — a few lines, mostly hidden, plenty to project your own fears onto.

Howard’s up there with Emily Carroll when it comes to drawing short to medium-length creepy stories, and pretty much in her own class when it comes to longform. Read The Door In The Kitchen once the sun goes down … if you dare.

Spam of the day:

Well, hey there! Young and energetic cutie here looking to continue exploring my wild side with a new man.
Are you available to meet this week or next for drinks and see if we click? I only use this site for hookups so if that’s not your thing it’s no problem..

Oh, right, I’m going to accept an invite for anonymous sex from “SqrtnAmy16” on Halloween. I’m absolutely certain to get murdered and/or mutilated in this scenario.

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