COMIC REVIEW: Slashermania
– By Stephen ‘Folklore’
‘Slashermania’ kicks off like you’re entering a sort of time portal that consists of The Running Man, The Hunger Games and The Final Girls.
We are quickly introduced to a TV event like no other. Hosted by quirky duo Todd Morton and Sanguine Slaughter. Set in 1983, the rules pit vulnerable runaways and juveniles against some of the most fearsome and famous slashers on the planet. Killers such as Captain Night, Biohazard, Franklin Frost and The Hound. Choosing a location from the previous winners accomplishments, the place is rigged with cameras, so the whole world can join in the fun.
Not only can the audience revel in the horrific things they witness on screen, each slasher has the chance of winning an award for favourite death scene, including my personal favourite – killing a couple during sexual activity! Wowza!
This year’s event (Slashermania 1983) takes place at an abandoned summer camp where Franklin Frost grew up. It’s been specifically redesigned to his exact specifications by his doctor. It’s also the first year the event goes international, so there’s slashers competing from the UK, Italy as well as the US. They will go up against 50 vulnerable kids no less.
Firstly the premise for this comic written by Russell Hillman is sensational. If you’re gonna write a nostalgic book referencing your favourite movies of the 80’s, the atmosphere, the culture, the style, well you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Mixing elements from previous and current movies and piecing them together works for a totally original idea. Straight from the get-go you believe Hillman lives and breathes this material, so you know it’s in safe hands.
I really loved how he sets the tone for the entire book. Showing us the rules via TV show hosts then straight into giving us breakdowns of the slashers involved. To say this is glorifying serial-killers is an understatement, but this is a horror comic, so one of the main reasons for people loving horror isn’t just to be scared or the gore or the terror, it’s for the icons it births. Fanatics openly admit they root for Freddy or Jason as they’re the real selling points of the movies or franchises. Hillman capitalises on this and runs at full pelt. He doesn’t just simply give his killers cool names, but gives them identities and back-stories.
We then switch our attention to victims, the kids who don’t know what’s coming for them. Settling in to their new surroundings in the summer camp, getting to know each other. This lot are basically every stereotypical character from an 80’s slasher flick. The jock, the nerd, the buxom blonde, the rebel, the fat kid and the outcast. It’s the attention to detail that makes Hillman’s writing so impressive. Yeah we’ve all seen hundreds of these films, so know these type of characters, but knowing how to lay them out into comic form is wonderful. As all the kids are either trying to hook up or score cigarettes the whole thing is being transmitted to a worldwide audience and a packed ballroom catering for the upper crust.
As the competition starts by shooting the brains out of last year’s winning final girl, ‘Slashermania 83’ begins!
Over the next host of pages we are privileged to see the bodies start to be carved up. Killings around camp-fires, shower scenes, you know the drill. Each slasher gets their chance to go to town on their victims and they do go to town. The violence is brutal, over the top and glorious.
During the night’s transmission to the masses, Slashermania TV has drop-in guests such as a professor and doctor chatting about the highlights of the killings. This is a great little touch and very black humour. Everyone live on TV chatting informally about how wonderful and great the killers are, bigging them up as heroes, it’s so morally wrong, so politically incorrect, but so funny!
As the killings increase and each murder more obscene than the last, you kind of just get swept away and reminisce to all those trashy horror movies you have stockpiled in your brain. You have to give Hillman huge credit for being able to accomplish that. He’s not alone though. The artwork by Ron Joseph & CJ Camba is beautiful. Stylistically they have nailed the feel and atmosphere to a tee. Their art has freedom and movement, especially during the killing sequences, it’s gorgeous. With haunting deep colours by Harry Saxon, together it’s all truly gorgeous.
I’ve always liked Hillman’s work since ‘The Dark of the Forest’, but think this is possibly his best work to date. He’s not only created an impressive independent comic book, but created a whole universe and mythology that he can no doubt expand on and I certainly hope he does.
– By Stephen ‘Folklore’