By Alan Hewetson, Suso Rego, John Gallagher
It may be a saying that has been overused by the older community but when I say here that "they don't make them like this" anymore in reference to 'The Complete Saga of the Victims' I most certainly am telling the truth! Think you've seen it all on the horror comic front? Think again.
In the 70's 'horror mood' comic publisher Skywald ran a seriously dark and psychologically troubling strip called 'Saga of the Victims' - the premise being that two young ladies (Josey Forster and Anne Adams), residents of the plush Scollard Manse finishing school, are one day abducted and whisked into a spirallingly horrifying world of mutants, midget nazis, zombie pirates and more! The strip was quite simply a wild ride of exploitation glee with each episode the girls getting put through increasingly more terrifying scenarios with little no rhyme or reason as to why what was happening was happening or where it all was heading (leaving the reader to thinking creator Hewetson must have been thinking 'what misery can I put the girls through this episode').
With this concept in mind, it is small wonder that readers at the time must have been completely hooked and damned excited to see just how the story would reach any form of satisfactory conclusion…but frustratingly before the final chapter could be revealed (or would that be luckily so for scripter Hewetson) Skywald went belly up before the finale could reach print.
So after some 30 years odd wait Chimera Arts have put fans of the series at long overdue ease with this collected publication of the entire 'Saga of the Victims' series which includes for the first time ever anywhere in the world the long elusive final chapter to bring a conclusion to the story (and no doubt return sanity to fans who have no doubt long ago pulled all their hair out in frustration waiting for this end).
But how does 'Saga of the Victims' fare now that is has been 'completed'? Welcomingly the strip retains all the musty downbeat charm of the 70's 'horror-mood' which is beautifully retained on reading this collection and as I pointed out at the opening no horror comic publisher today is creating exploitative horror as pure and gratifying as this - 'they don't make them like this anymore'.
Hewetson's script is a riot of every nasty horror theme and extreme fantasy and is well matched by the retro stylings of artist Suso Rego. John Gallagher, the man behind this welcome revival, does a grand job bringing it altogether with some fine tuning around the debut final chapter but for myself curiously I was left wondering after all this time did we really want the 'Saga of the Victims' to really reach a conclusion or would it have been preferable to think of the poor 'victims' continuing on a never ending spiral of terror? (the possibilities for revival follow up series may have been lucrative for the shrewd horror publisher and I'm sure Archaic Al Hewetson would have approved!)
Either way, 'The Complete Saga of the Victims' is the perfect way for newcomers to the Skywald experience to get the taste buds blooded and for old fans to finally get some conclusion. It goes without saying that this is also the perfect companion piece to the stunning Headpress 'Skywald Horror-Mood' tome also. Do yourself a favour and buy them both!
To be honest, I've found the horror comic scene pretty lacking of late with only a couple of notable titles around the scene (all of which not surprisingly are produced by independent publishers), so it is with open arms that we welcome 'Bedlam' - a cool new UK horror comic that captures the essence of the old Warren and Skywald mags of the seventies but with a very modern feel!
Regrettably, it is with the third issue of 'Bedlam' that we here at SGM pick up things (damn us for not picking up the first two) but if like us you're new to the book then no worries, you'll quickly pick up speed with the horrific action contained within. 'Bedlam's content is very varied indeed with a wild mix of both story content and artistic styles ranging from the retro-underground chic of 'Radical Boredom' (a twisted tale of psychotic consumer obsessed dwarf clowns and talking rhino's!?) to 'Brainsick' (a stylish saga of deformities and body piercing in the near future). There's also the dementedly fun adventures of 'The Jigsaw Man' and best of all issue three heralds the revival of the old Skywald fave 'Lady Satan' in an all-new strip that should please fans of the old 'Scream' and 'Psycho' mags no end.
The mag also is presented lovingly with a tasty painted colour card cover and high grade black and white paper stock inside which enhances the content nicely indeed. 'Bedlam' issue three is a perfect jumping aboard point for newcomers to the mag (and if you like what you see there are back issues available). If you were ever a fan of the horror comic scene then you'll be more than pleased with what's on offer here - check it out!
Wow, if the team behind 'Bedlam' magazine weren't busy enough - here they are again with the first edition of their spin off comic magazine 'Usher', a cool mix of graphic depravity and grotesque horror with a great leader strip in their continuation of the goth-vampire schlock classic 'Razor Blade Smile'.
Once again, Chimera Arts deliver a nice varied mix of comic book styles in this welcome addition to the comic book market. Unlike it's sister mag 'Bedlam' (which crosses genres), 'Usher' is out and out horror fun with its inspiration firmly planted in the glorious retro style of mags like 'Nightmare', the much lamented 'Scream' et al. And like those golden oldies, 'Usher' is at times a mixed bag of entertainment. Issue one opens with the delicious 'Slashed Menagerie' which is a fun depraved read, then there's the new adventures of Lily White Lilith in 'Razor Blade Smile' which I surprisingly enjoyed most. Rogers plot hooks you in very swiftly leaving you keen for future instalments and Gallagher's art is both stylish and sexy, ideal for this character and storyline. On the other hand though, the 'Progeny' strip was somewhat lacking and out of place with the rest of the mags content (which is a shame), but things get back on track with the seedy 'Control Freak' which again harks back in atmosphere the more seedier side of horror comics from the days of old.
Like it's sister mag 'Bedlam', 'Usher' #1 is also lovingly presented in a great painted card cover with high grade black and white paper stock inside which again enhances the content nicely indeed. Like its sister mag 'Bedlam', we can't recommend this one enough - more so if you have fond memories of the gruesome horror comics of old. Great stuff - check it out!
For more information on ordering these titles contact (or visit the official website here) :
Chimera Arts, 13 Foliage Crescent, Brinnington, Stockport, Cheshire, England, SK5 8AP.
Back issues of 'Bedlam' can be ordered for £2 UK (or $5 US) each at the above address also.Back