Friday, 22 November 2013

Movie Review: Coraline

Adapted of the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a small wonder made of small wonders.

The story revolves around Coraline, whose parents just moved into the  Pink Palace, an old apartment building in the middle of nowhere. Her parents, both authors of a gardening book are pushing near their deadline and none of the other eccentric inhabitants care to or can remember her name correctly, so her life right now is not exactly great. Then however she receives a strange doll that looks like herself and a small door opens itself to another world. There she is greeted by her other mother, her other father, her other everything. And all is so much better there, beautiful, interesting, magical...
ooor is iiiit?

Well, of course it´s not, it´s a scary movie.

While not really scary for adults, it the movie still does not shy away from creepy imagery or heavy themes. It presents a good blend of funny, suspenseful, creepy and calm moments. The story feels surprisingly authentic for having such phantastic themes. The motivations and feelings of Coraline and her parents are understandeable and relateable. The other neighbors (apart from Mr Bobinski maybe) seem like people one might actually know. It captures the view of a child and parent equally well. And even the antagonist is more than just "evil", at least in my opinion, though one can see it like that. There is a bit more complexity to it that is briefly touched upon, but not explained.
The story is not "easy", there is no "so this is what we learned today, folks!" It does provide questions without them being distracting and it can be interpreted without interpretation being necessary to understand the story.

The movie looks gorgeous and the differences between the one and the other world follow an internal logic, not so much dictated by the symbolism that a lot of other movies present (you know... someone is seen next to a cross and the audience knows that it´s supposed to be a jesus-analogy or something like that, which is not bad altogether, just a bit overused sometimes). And it´s one of those movies that you can watch over and over again and see something new again. Claymation is an impressive art by itself and it´s used masterfully here. The soundtrack is so good that I found myself listening to the ost on a regular basis for fun, which I barely do. It´s spooky, beautiful and fits extremely well.

One great tidbit is this: There is a female, believeable main character, several people of color, people of all ages, thin, fat, beautiful, ugly, bitchy, awkward, conservative, even "slutty"... and those characteristics don´t reflect on how bad or good a person they are. The movie, even though it has a rather small cast, has great diversity and not one unmemorable character design. And it pulls it off with elegance, in the sense that you only start to notice when you actually stop and think about it. Bravo.

There are a few small downsides: The movie tends to move too fast sometimes and there is one big plothole towards the end in my opinion, which i´ll put into the [ ] in white, so you can highlight if you want to read the spoiler: [Why didn´t the parents get tipped off that they had been away for so long when they were freed from the snow ball, when even the groceries were mouldy? And if they weren´t really away, why was there snow on their coats? Either they were away or they weren´t it´s not one of those situations where one can assume that both is possible.] The main character too I found rather unsympathetic when first watching it... but maybe that was the point. Also I personally just don´t  like headstrong characters. Altogether those are minor problem in an otherwise awesome movie.

And that´s it: It´s an awesome movie, not "an awesome movie for kids". It´s an awesome movie. Period.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Let´s start off by saying the things that are the most obvious:
No, it is not like Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness
No, it does not need to be
Yes, it orients itself more on the first Evil Dead
No, it is not directed by Sam Raimi
Is it good?

How the hell do you define "good" in a Horror movie anyway?
Doesn´t a Horror movie betray it´s own purpose when you feel good (after) watching it?

It advertised itself as "the most terrifying movie you will ever see"
it certainly was not the most terrifying movie I´ll ever see
but it sure as hell wasn´t pleasant, either.

The problem is that I am probably not the best person to talk about this movie. 
It´s a very gorey movie. It was very gross and yes, it was disturbing.
I don´t like those things in a Horror movie.
But for a splatter movie it was pretty much the best it could be... for me.

The plot is quick to summarize: A few tweens drive to a shack in the woods to party, have sex and get killed by a monster. Wait, no. Sorry, that sequence of words is ingraved into my brain after watching one too many horror flicks. No, actually the story of Evil Dead (2013) is a bit more interesting: 
See, they drive to a shack in the woods because one of the girls is a drug addict and they plan to make a cold detoxification. From the get-go it´s also pretty obvious that some things happened in the past and that there is some unresolved tension between them. Soon after one of them discovers the necronomicon and - reading a page out loud - summons a demon, who will bring the apocalypse as soon as he has feasted on five souls. And thus begins a game of "and then there were none" with lots and lots of self- and regular mutilation.

The good:
* The effects were VERY effective, apart from maybe one or two scenes, what happened on screen made me sick to my stomach or made me cover my nethers (those who know the scene know what i mean)
* The lady playing the demon was awesome. She was so good in fact that only after the movie I did remember that she was playing two different roles and that the demon was in fact not played by a different person.
* I did not hate the characters, nor did I find them particularly interesting, BUT: The way the group started to play off each other, their resignation, despair and anger when facing the cold intoxification really got to me. It was a realistic portrayal in my opinion and the premise alone would mak for a fascinating film on its own.

The bad:
* Good GOD the brother character. He was very, very frustrating to watch. He was exactly the wrong blend of gutless and gutsy. 
* Resulting from the above: The thing with the grave. Errr... no. No, suspension of disbelief went ooout daaa window. I know that it´s a Horror movie and logic does not need to apply, but still nope. I can believe anything the demon does, cause the demon is magic. But that? No. That´s just bullshit. Nice bullshit. But still bullshit.
* The sexual... things... Which is weird to critizise, because I am pretty certain that it´s there JUST to make the viewer uncomfortable. But still, it only happened to the girls and... argh, i don´t know. It does make sense from the perspective of the demon to do nasty stuff, but I... just can´t not put it on the bad list. I would have to write an entirely different entry for this particular can of worms, just bear with me here, this review is long enough as it is.

So all in all: It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I am still not entirely sure what I should think about this movie and I think that´s actually a good thing. It makes me rethink the parameter by which I consider a Horror Movie good or bad and it is an interesting thought to be had:
Does it make sense to critize a movie for being disturbing?

As it is obvious: I would not watch it again.
Should you watch it?
Reading the above I´m sure you already know.

- Nekromantenhase

PS: Concerning the stinger:  (¬▂¬) *shrugs* eeehhh...

Monday, 7 October 2013

About writing Horror-Comics

Or: What I have learned about scary stories in the three years of Schattenspiele.

First off a rhethorical question: What do an erotic story and a scary story have in common? Answer: What you don´t see is what´s the most interesting. In other words: Tension and build-up, with the goal being the best possible stimulation. While shocking moments are important, they should be used sparingly, even if that does not seem logical at first. But I´ll elaborate.

There are different kinds of fear, let´s just put them into three categories for now:
Unsettling: Something is off, something is alarming or even just uncomfortable. You might not be able to put your finger on it, but it´s there (probably) and it´s haunting. It might or might not be enough to get your imagination starting.
Scary: You know that something is there and it´s out to get you. It´s not here yet, though, but you know that it´s going to come, inevitably and with no or only a small hope of avoiding it. And when it happens, it´s gonna be BAD.
Shocking: It is there, immediate, no distance in between and the self loses itself for a moment in a pure, overwhelming moment of fear. Maybe it came out of the blue, maybe there was a build-up, but the result was even worse or something entirely different, but equally terrifying as what was expected.

Now what an author might want at the end of the tale is “shocking”, but what they really aspire most of the time is “unsettling” or “scary”. Why? Because while shock is indeed the most intense feeling, it´s over soon. I bet every one of us has witnessed a jump scare in our lives. Yes, it´s bad, but when it´s over, it´s over and a sweet release of endorphin ensures us that we are indeed still alive. Shock alone only releases tension, is what I want to say. You need context to make it last. You want to make it last. And yes, horror authors have to be sadists. Actually, most authors have to be sadists. Comes with the territory.

What you need to prepare a good scare is a “dark hallway”. A “dark hallway” is something we all encounter in our daily lives that unsettles us irrationally, meaning that we cannot logically explain why it unsettles us. We can find explanations, but since the phenomenon is in itself harmless, it stays irrational. It needs to be relateable. So, for example, if you as an author are scared of buttons it´s not enough to show a button on every page to make someone uncomfortable, since most people aren´t. You need to find the root of your fear and try to convey it to the person reading your story to feel with you. A dark hallway on the other hand has the advantage that it tends to unsettle most people. 

This is something you can build upon, in many different ways, making the unsettling scary. A dark hallway, to pick up the example again, is a good place for an attacker to hide. Even if the hallway seems empty, since we cannot see completely, the fear still remains. One possibility is to show or hint at an attacker that actually exists, could be a murderer roaming the house or something supernatural. Even better if said supernatural attacker somehow utilizes the fact that it cannot be seen or uses shadows.

For example: There is a monster in the house that can only move in the dark. Our protagonist sees said dark hallway, unsure if it is there, the eyes fixated on the dark spot where he thinks it might be. He knows that it can´t move forward any further, the light prevents it and his hand is on the switch. But then a small hand-like blurry thing moves over the wall, it seems to sizzle in the light and a faint scream is heard. It moves towards the light bulb and finally crushes it. In the next pages the protagonist retreats further and further into the house in a battle of wits that might or might not be hopeless while said monster is out to get him.

The shock element would be the sight of said monster, it might be in the beginning of the story to help build up tension or in the end as a grand finale, in any way it should be a sight that neither the protagonist nor the reader wants to see again.

And that is how I build up moments in horror stories. Of course I don´t always stick to this, some stories don´t need shock moments at all, some just live off of them, also it really depends on what you understand as unsettling, scary or shocking, of course. But I hope I was able to bring you a bit of insight into how this can work.

- Nekromantenhase

Monday, 23 September 2013

Movie Review: The Shadow within

Also known as „Ghosts”, also known as “Les meres noires” (the black mothers), while I personally like the last title the most. Because, although it is a tale about ghosts and a shadow within someone, the mothers are what makes it special. But first things first:

In a little French village in the mountains set in the forties, the nine year old Maurice lives with his mother. The war has taken away the husbands, the phthisis is taking away the children. After losing his twin brother at birth, his mother has become a bitter woman, obviously and irrationally preferring the dead twin over him. And the bond to his dead brother is still strong – and threateningly so. And now the women of the village want to use said bond to communicate to their dead beloved children.

Well, what could go wrooong?

A shocker or thriller this is not. Instead it is what I would describe as a drama with added mystery. The movie moves slowly and in low tones, probably a trait that outs it as an adaption of a book. The recurring themes and the atmosphere are nicely done and gloomy. The special effects are meh, but i´d still recommend this movie. While the dead twin/ dead child schtick has been done to dea- a LOT – what I liked about the movie was its grounding in reality and its pessimism. The relationship of the mother to the child is sad and believable and so are the circumstances that lead up to the decision that they want to use Maurice as a medium to the other side. The real horror, if any, lies in the daily life of Maurice between the coldness of his mother and the closeness of his dear brother.

So if you are waiting for jump scares or masses of ghosts, you won´t get them – no matter how much the cover art tries to make this movie look like a screamer-picture or a gore-fest* – but if you are in the mood for some solid spookiness mixed with melancholia, this might be for you.

*= Pfft, seriously, look at this:
This one is actually rather accurate, all things considered...

... but then this one´s like:
Damn, sales are dropping, we gotta up the scariness!
And BAM: Scream/er face is gonna eat your SOUL!
Only scary thing is that this reminds me of a blow-up doll
... hrrr... okay, that implication IS scary.

... and on to the Mega-Digitation:
Or something.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Neuigkeiten... erneut

Hallo meine Damen und Herren,
leider muss ich mitteilen, dass sich die Herausgabe von Schattenspiele um ein halbes Jahr verschieben wird. Von den, mit mir eingeschlossen, vier Zeichnern haben zwei abgesagt und ich kann die daher ausfallende Menge an Material nicht innerhalb solch kurzer Zeit zeichnen und will das auch gar nicht. Es lag mir immer am Herzen, dass die Schattenspiele-Comics einen gewissen Mindest-standard an Qualität haben und dass ich kein Heft herausbringe, in dem weniger als 60 Seiten Comics sind. Hinzu kommt, dass ausgerechnet in den Zeitraum von Mitte Oktober bis Mitte November viele wichtige Termine meinerseits gefallen sind. Also ist die logische Konsequenz, das Heft zeitlich zu verschieben.
Bis dahin werde ich mein Bestes geben um den Blog hier wieder regelmäßiger zu updaten und falls es wieder etwas Neues gibt, halte ich euch natürlich auf dem Laufenden.
-     -     Nekromantenhase

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Comic Review: Night of a thousand wolves

... might as well be called: Comic of a thousand gorgeous wolves.
The art ist beautiful. It is hand-drawn, giving the pictures a vibe of age and tradition which nicely tingled in the back of my head while I was reading it. That is not say that I dislike digital art (not at all) I just want to say that it fits the theme and the story, which is set in the middle ages. And yes, the masses of wolves by the artist Dave Wachter are very impressive. There are only minor nitpicks, such as the zombie wolves and the faces of the humans just don´t look as interesting as the rest of the art. It is still eye porn, though.

The story is rather classic horror with fantasy elements: A family lives out in the wilderness among green hills and sheep. One day, all of a sudden, the Grandpa grabs one of these sheep and an axe, he wants to sacrifice it, as it seems, to an unknown force called Nagbre. The father intervenes, he argues with the old man, but as they stop their argument end and they look up when they hear a noise, a wolf has already half devoured the white animal, now gnarling his teeth at them. And he´s only the omen of an army of wolves coming their way...

Unfortunately it is not as interesting to read as I am making it sound. The story is not particularly grabbing and it feels a bit like a "what standard-horror-route will they go with?"-game. It mixes up the formula up a bit in the middle of the story when the "family alone a in a shack"-story becomes a "city under siege"-story, unfortunately ditching the horror element for that part completely in my opinion. It´s just not the same kind of fear when you are lying in your bed, unsure if the monster in front of the window has seen you yet then when you stand in the middle of a crowd, uneasy if all those people in front of you will provide a shield thick enough to save your life. I personally find the second scenario not as effective as the first, but that is of course subjective. While it starts out strong, if very clichéd and it mellows down towards the middle, the ending is nice, with a legitimate eerie feel to it and a bit of an open end that still manages to conclude the story.

The characters are pretty one-note. Nothing more to say here, unfortunately. The most memorable one was the mother, but apart from that the story sticks rather firmly to narrating down what´s happening with little to no characterization and little to no background story. While I am not a fan of the "we explain evey little detail"-approach, knowing a bit more about the lore would have been nice. It felt more like they did not have enough pages to tell everything they wanted to (the story is not that long and can be read in a single volume) and not like they meant to leave things out. Still, there is a mythological feel to it and as if there IS a backstory and a greater world behind it. 

Altogether, the story is not bad, just not very special. It is not full of twists and new interpretations, instead it is rather conservative. It´s like bread, essentially. Nah, that´s too harsh. It´s like bread that´s a little special. Like potato-bread. And it´s a good foundation for the delicious layer that is the artwork, the atmosphere and the wolves.
The thousand incredibly pretty wolves.

Buy: If you like the art or just like wolves a lot and want a comparatively "soft" and classic horror story. 
Pass: If you don´t like wolves that much or want an innovative horror story.

A preview of "Night of a thousand wolves" can be read here: Night of a thousand Wolves preview
and it can be bought on by IDW publishing as a paperback here: Buy Night of a thousand Wolves

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Book Review: Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrorow

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow by Katy Towell

"Adelaide Foss, Maggie Borland, and Beatrice Alfred are known by their classmates at Widowsbury's Madame Gertrude's School for Girls as "scary children." Unfairly targeted because of their peculiarities—Adelaide has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf, Maggie is abnormally strong, and Beatrice claims to be able to see ghosts—the girls spend a good deal of time isolated in the school's inhospitable library facing detention. But when a number of people mysteriously begin to disappear in Widowsbury, the girls work together, along with Steffen Weller, son of the cook at Rudyard School for Boys, to find out who is behind the abductions. Will they be able to save Widowsbury from a sinister 12-year-old curse? " Source: Amazon

I was introcuced to "Childrin R Skary" through a friend of mine, who showed me the animations made by the author herself. Said animations have mostly one running theme:
Little scary girls and how they change the world for the better or the worse. They were quite nice to watch, though a bit badly drawn and a bit too predictable in their story, but entertaining and creative in other aspects. (That does sound worse than I inteded it to. I guess it would be best if you judge for yourselves:

Now the author has brought her ideas to paper and the result is this book. It was printed in 2011 and since I liked the ideas and the style of the videos, I purchased it. It´s a quick read (about 270 pages), it´s illustrated and it´s... genuienly entertaining, adorable, and exciting and the intended message is solid and conveyed wonderfully. 

There is little to complain about the book, since it know what it wants: The characters are charming and relateable and they have their strenghts and flaws. There have been times when I rolled my eyes at all four of the main characters, though this did not stem from BAD writing, but from GOOD writing. They were portrayed as children who have yet to find their place in the world and make mistakes because of it. All motivations were comprehensible.

The story is not ashamed to become dark and edgy while still having its cute and nice moments. It´s not complex, but also not banal. It has style and a goal. It´s simply a enjoyable, gloomy adventure.

An illustration from the book

My only real problem with the book is... it´s illustrations. It´s not like the author did not try, the pictures are a huge step upward from the animation. But - and I know I´m being full of myself here - if you can count the mistakes that you used to make just a few years ago in every illustration, it kind of takes you out of the experience. Buuut: It´s always clear what is meant to be expressed and for someone less nitpicky than me, the illustrations might not be a problem at all.

I recommend the book especially to adolescents and children that are into vampires, werewolfs and gothis culture anyways (provided they can read English) and to adults who can appreciate a lovely told, eerie, little story. Apart from that you can get a first impression with the animations, of course. If you like what you´ve seen there, you will love the book.

- Nekromantenhase

Copyright to "Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow" and all related pictures shown in this entry belong to Katy Towell and the Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Said pictures are hosted and shown under the right of review.

Monday, 5 August 2013


Erst einmal habe ich nicht so gute Nachrichten:
Das diesjährige Schattenspiele wird leider das letzte sein.
Auch wenn wir gerne miteinander arbeiten, gehen unsere Vorstellungen für das Projekt zu stark auseinander, um weiterhin Bestand zu haben. Wir arbeiten prima in Dous, aber aus irgend einem Grund nicht in Trios *mit den Schultern zuckt* Cést la vie!

Aus diesem Grund und anderen bin ich (Nekromantenhase) nun Leiterin des Projekts und der letzen Ausgabe, während die anderen auf freiwilliger Basis mitmachen können.
Bisher habe ich Zusagen von drei Comic-Zeichnern, dass sie gerne ein Werk beisteuern würden.
Das Werk steht auf etwas wackeligeren Beinen als sonst, aber es steht, ist, was ich sagen will.

Aber weiter zum Comic:

"Soil" was intended as a stylistic take on the artstyle "Art Nouveau" or "Jugendstil" of the 1920´s. A horror story that is chilling, but also beautiful to look at. It was also the first comic to be drawn for Schattenspiele 2012. The Comic, unfortunately, fell flat on different levels, in my opinion: 
First, I should have looked at Art Nouveau and it´s stylistic elements more closely before starting to draw, as the similarities start out at zero percent and reach maye 10% at best on the latter pages. 
Second: I should have added text, since the pictures alone can´t carry it on it´s own, at least not the way I portrayed it, it´s too abstract. 

Basically, what´s up is this: The white cherry trees shown start bleeding when rain falls unto them and said blood sips through the skin of creatures that rest below it, infecting them. The woman stands up, but falls down quickly and seemingly dies, when in reality, she turns into a tree herself. Years later a couple shows up and picks some cherries, only for the woman to realize, that they taste like blood and the man to cut one up to see the silhouette of a baby instead of a pit inside. 

The story is not designed to make sense on a narrative level, it´s more a contemplation on the merging of two pictures: The tree and the woman. Blood streams that are twigs, (the third panel of page four is trying to emulate upside-down lungs growing out of her chest (GETIT?)), tree sap as blood and fruits as... well... embryoes.

Fun fact: There is tree called "blood cherry" in German :D

Monday, 22 July 2013

Artist Spotlight: Toyen


Marie Cerminova, who took on the pseudonym Toyen when she was 21, is, in my opinion, the most important woman in Czech Surrealism. And yet she is shockingly unknown even among Art Historians (at least in Germany), it seems. Let´s change that, shall we?

I apologize to all Czechs in advance for the oversimplified letters. I would use the correct ones - if I could find them…

Phantom object 1937

She was born 1902 in Prag and joined the Avantgarde-Group “Devetsil” in 1923 which later became the Czech Surrealist movement. She was in contact with the French Surrealists as well and took part in almost all the most important events and exhibitions. Even during  the occupation by the Nazis from 1939-1946 she still created paintings and even hid her colleague Heisler in her home. She was calling herself a Surrealist even after the disbanding of the movement in 1969 and until her death in 1980.

Shooting Gallery 1940

While, as I already wrote, she is in fact not a Horror-Artist, but a Surrealist, her paintings and drawings definitely have an element of “spooky calmness” to them, since – among other things – it was the intention of the Surrealist movement to alienate or even shock the viewer with what s/he sees, plus, her main motives are the war and sexuality. Something shocking is bound to be found.

Paravent 1966

After the performance 1943
Message of the forest 1936


Weiss, Judith Elisabeth; Byzovska, Lenka a.o.: "Chronologie Paris-Prag 1919-1969"
Debatin, Sarah; Guntrum, Anja a.o.:"Biografien"
in: "Gegen jede Vernunft, Surrealismus Paris-Prag"

Monday, 1 July 2013

Mrs Two-Face Work-in-Progress

A work-in-progress where I took a scan about every 10 to 20 minutes
First I sketch the overall outline of the upper body, position of the hand and position of where the mirror is supposed to be. I use a 1:8 head to body ratio and sketch the middle line to keep the position of the body in check.
 Aaand I add the arms. It´s important to note that the ellebows are in line with the navel. I use a circle-construction to understand what needs to be where.
 Adding the hat and detailing the body further. I also use lines on the legs once again to determine the middle and to better understand the 3rd dimension.
 Adding more details like the clothes. The cloth follows the rules of gravity, of course, as seen with the sleeves. Still it is a rather thight-fitting suit and the cloth is rather stiff, making little wrinkles. The face is symmetrical. Yet.
 And there comes the monstrous/fun part: Next to detailing the clothes by adding buttons and the blouse underneath, I differenciate the two sides by making the hair more messy, adding a structure to the face and oversubscribe the expression. Note the corner of the mouth reaching way up on the one side but not the other. I also emphasize the knuckles.
 Drawing the outlines... nothing special. Adding a few wrinkles here and there, especially on the blouse,since it´s made of lighter and softer material. It´s also sensible to vary the thickness of the lines depending on the shading. It just makes the outlines more vivid.
 Dubidubidah, structures! ... I don´t really know what to add, to be honest...
 Starting to shade. There are different techniques to shading, of course, the one I am using here is rather stylized. I first draw the outlines of the shadow itself while in real life this is something you would not see, of course. The light source is in the upper left corner.
 To really drive the point home, I use different ways of shading for the two halves. Clean and orderly lines for the left, sketchy and scratchy ones for the right side. The impression that I want to convey is that the left half is made of silk while the right one is made of velvet that is partly covered in mold. But as I said, it´s stylized. Also I decide to make the suit and blouse the opposite color respectively.
 Lah lah lah, shadiiing...
 Moar shadiiiing...
And done!
What a lovely lady :D

PS: This work-in-progress is not up to date with my expertise,
One can see that my anatomical knowledge is rather limited, as such I do advise anyone not to use the same method. Look into anatomy, sketch bones, then muscles, the the skin, if you aim for a realistic looking human being.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Junji Ito

A great Horror-Mangaka and a great inspiration to us all.

Instead of counting down the steps of his life à la Wikipedia, I shall do something different:
Junji Ito has published over 30 books full of manga stories already and since he tends to focus on short stories from 20 to 40 pages he covered a wide variety of topics to make into horror stories. So I´ll instead count down the

"Top 5 most ridiculous sounding things that Junji Ito made a terrifying horror story of"


"Top 5 pretty harmless things that Ito Junji will ruin for you"

Yo, ho, ho, pirates! Spoilers ahead! Also disgusting pictures. You have been warned.


(Of course this top 5 is purely subjective. The places where chosen on the base of the biggest gap between how harmless/ridiculous the topic and how terrifying the results are)

No 5 - Snails
Okay, this one only ranks so low because there are a lot of people that - even though not necessarily afraid of snails, they find them pretty icky. Now take that and multiply it with the mind of a former dentist - yes he used to be a dentist and no-one is surprised - and you get stories like "slug girl" or some chapters of Uzumaki. Now you might think: Oh well, it´s still just a snail. No matter if you make it big or extra disgusting or acid sweating or anything, you can always outrun it, oh WAIT...

Hey, fun fact: The story is 16 pages long, this is page 9. It only gets worse from there :D

No 4 - Balloons

At first, something as unthreatening as a balloon seems rather crappy material for a horror story unless you throw in some creepy clowns. One of the great qualitys of his horror stories though, is, that he manages to fuse two thoughts into one: In "The hanging balloons", mysterious floating balloon-heads with nooses are out to get the person that shares their face. The image of a gallow combined with a balloon. While the story itself is not that scary, which is also why I ranked it so low, the imaginary feat is quite impressive. Also: Junji Ito first drew comedy before switching to horror. Sometimes it shows.

*snicker* Look at them balloons. They´re so happy :D

No 3 - Red thread

One of his other great qualities is the ability to explore one idea thoroughly. "Red string" is a great example for that: A boy, after his girlfirend broke up with him, discovers a read thread being sewn through his skin. Where does it come from? Is it a rash? Is it because his ancestors are sewing it through him for his own protection? Or is it the "thread of faith" growing through his body since the girlfriend was his destined one?
And when will it stop? Or will it? 

I´m not gonna lie. This story does give me the creeps, probably because I used to have huge problems with syringes... D: Still it´s one of the funniest so far (not counting the Cat Diary). 

Gotta love the nonchalance... 

No 2 - Ice cream

"Ice cream bus". It´s a story about a recently divorced father and his child, living in an area where there´s a nice man who allows children to eat as much ice cream as they want :D. Neat, right? Yeah, this story is not about obesity, though (even though it would be an option). Rather, the twist is a bit different: After a while, the child´s toys become sticky, the father sees two children licking each others skin off, while proclaiming: "It´s sweet, right?" and in the end... well, you are what you eat. Quite literally.

Junji Ito really knows how to make the reader feel and explore the circumstances. Take the picture above, for example: It´s just so... graphic. You can almost feel the head splosh off like a popsicle breaks through on a hot summer day. Yikes.

No 1 - Spirals

Well, of course this had to be number one, I guess. Not only is "Uzumaki", the 3-Volume-story and one of his longest works, making you fear spirals - it makes you fear them in about 20 different ways. It´s a masterpiece because it´s a showcase of his imagination, the exploration of the theme on very different levels and smaller topics and his DRAWING ABILITY.

How did I get here without mentioning his incredible art?! While his people, while drawn realistically and quite pretty, are nothing, NOTHING compared to when he shows off. And boy, does he ever. It´s really gorgeous, in a way.

So if you are into Horror and haven´t checked him out already, I would really recommend it. He has so much stuff, there will be something that you will like and give you the chills. So if you have to possibility 

Honorable mention goes to the "Cat Diary". 
No, it´s not horror. It´s comedy. 
It´s about Junji Ito getting two cats and the misadventures he has with them. 
It is drawn like one of his horror stories, though.

What? It´s just a normal person kissing and cuddling his cat!

Itou Junji Kyoufu Manga Collection not purchaseable in English yet
Itou Junji no Neko Nikki, Yon & Muu not purchaseable in English yet
Itou Junji´s Uzumaki purchaseable from VIZ Media LLC

Manga Pages are hosted on, names of the scanlation-teams were not available, unfortunately.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Conquerer Worm

Whoops, people. The holidays screwed with my perception of time. Sorry
Anyways, have a Poem! By Poe!

The Conquerer Worm
by Edgar Allan Poe
illustrated by Maike Gerstenkorn

Lo! ´tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly -
Mere puppets they, who come and gp
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from our their Condor wings
Invisible Woe!

That motley drama - oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness and more of Sin
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes! - it writhes! - with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out - out are the lights - out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallif and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man",
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

Monday, 6 May 2013



 For all those who do not know: The comic is based on a movie that is based on a short story:

This is a scene from the movie... you might see a parallel or two :)