Skip to Content

‘Horrere’ #1 is a comeback for the black and white horror anthology

‘Horrere’ #1 is a comeback for the black and white horror anthology


Horrere #1
Written by Rob Jones and Michael Sambrook
Art by Neil Ford, Alastair McLauchlan, Gareth Sleightholme, and Alisdair Wood
Letters by Rob Jones
Published by Little O/Madius Comics

In a way, Madius Comics’ Horrere #1 does for horror anthology comics what 2000 AD did for science fiction during its inception in 1977. It’s 40 pages of black and white or monochromatic horror stories in different genres, including cryptozoology, monster, zombie, and even the first chapter in an occult/creepy baby story that’s a treat for fans of the Omen and Child’s Play films. The best stories in the anthology are the one-offs, which are slices of abject terror in a variety of settings from the lonely mountains of Wyoming to medieval German libraries and even beyond the apocalypse. The writers Rob Jones and Michael Sambrook also inject each story with a wicked sense of humor, and the final pages of the first three story definitely elicit a dark chuckle. It is also interesting that most of the stories take place in the United States even though the creators are all British.

The first story in the anthology is “If You Go Down to the Woods Today…” and is written by Jones and Sambrook with stark black and white art from Neil Ford (An Unkindness). It is about a little boy living in a cabin with his parents deep in the Wyoming countryside that befriends and then slays the monster Bigfoot in a gruesome, yet darkly humorous manner. Jones, Sambrook, and Ford make the kid the picture of childish innocence as the story opens with him talking to his teddy bear, Harry. The inclusion of the toy puts readers at ease and ready for a possibly feel good story about a child befriending a monster, or a harrowing child victim story. (The long shadows used by Ford create this eerie filling.)

But then Jones, Sambrook, and Ford pull off an excellent plot twist with a touch of the hixploitation genre. (Think The Hills Have Eyes, but this family kills monsters and not humans. Maybe.) The little kid turns out to be a trained killer, and Ford goes for the reader’s jugular with a grotesque horror staple: the dangling eyeball. The issue ends on a bit of a joking note with a final full page splash showing what “family time” really looks like for the kid and his family, and Jones and Sambrook show off a gift for dialogue with some fun pseudo-redneck dialect. The only thing that I didn’t like about this story was that it ended, and that we didn’t get to find more about the family and if they’ve fought other cryptozoological beasties. Hopefully, it’ll get a serial and not be restricted to a one-off.

The second one-shot story in the anthology and the most visually appealing is “Aufhocker” a short, almost silent comic written by Jones and Sambrook with atmospheric, greyscale art from Alistair McLauchlan. The monochromatic art style with no outlines and a focus on realistically depicting architecture reminded me of D’Israeli’s work with Ian Edginton on the 2000 AD strip Stickleback, a steampunk series set in London with a Moriarty-esque master criminal as the protagonist. This art style creates a powerful sense of place and mood in five short pages with the maudlin narration from Jones and Sambrook filling in the backstory of this obscure, shapeshifting monster. It’s reminiscent of silent German with its chiarascuro compositions, but adds a dose of cheeky British wit on the back end. McLauchlan even successfully executes a jump scare in a comic book, which is no small feat in a static medium.

The third story in the anthology “You Are What You Eat” is firmly ensconced in the zombie genre and is like the dark, twisted love child of Shaun of the Dead (If the ending wasn’t happy.) and the “Doublemeat Palace” episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Six. It is written by Jones and Sambrook with cluttered, grotesque art from Gareth Sleightholme. The story takes place after the zombie apocalypse and shows the crapsack society that has followed it from the perspective of a female, undercut sporting survivor named Maddox, who works at a Smeat factory. Smeat is the food staple of the post-apocalyptic world, and there is a lot of satire about the fast food industry and the assembly line nature of work in the 21st century. I won’t spoil the final page twist, but it will either have you it stitches or have you lose your lunch. It also showcases Sleightholme’s eye for detail in his artwork

The final story in Horrere #1, and the only one that will be serialized is “Grimoire”. It is an occult murder mystery featuring Fin, whose father was killed by a creepy baby when she was young, and technologically inept police detective Ben Morton. It is written by Jones and Sambrook with art from Alisdair Wood (Beagle). Wood’s scratchy artwork shows the transient nature of Fin’s life as she goes from town to town trying to get to the bottom of this macabre mystery. His lines get fuller as he starts to depict the faces of the figures behind the attack, like a spell spouting witch and a circus freak straight from

“Grimoire” is the weakest comic in Horrere #1, but not a bad read by any means because it has to set up an ongoing serial with recurring characters and suspenseful situations. The opening scenes with Fin’s father dying seem a little rushed, but once Ben and Fin start bantering driving to little, spooky towns in Pennsylvania, and generally doing the True Detective thing, the story settles into a comfortable, yet uneasy rhythm. And artist Wood really pours the horror (and negative space) on in the final pages, which end the anthology on a nightmarish and darkly humorous note. Basically, the tone all four stories have nailed down.

Horrere #1 brings readers four disgusting, yet satisfying tastes of horror with four distinct art styles from Neil Ford, Alasdair McLauchlan, Gareth Sleightholme, and Alisdair Wood and intense lettering from Rob Jones. Jones and co-writer Michael Sambrook dabble into many genres and settings to craft stories that are funny and frightening. Horrere #1 is a horror comics lover’s buffet, but one of the nice ones with the multiple meat plates, not Golden Corral.

Horrere #1 will be released on November 14 at the Thoughtbubble Sequential Arts Festival in Leeds, UK. After that, it will be available at the Horrere website.