Monster World #1 (American Gothic Press)

CREDIT: American Gothic Press

Rating: 4/5 – Classic Pulp-Style Horror Set bin the 1930s.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

American Gothic Press is a new comic company that’s an imprint of the well known and long running Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine that was created by Forrest J. Ackerman and James Warren back in 1958. American Gothic Press will be publishing comics in the horror, sci-fi, or fantasy genre and it’s clear from the title alone which genre Monster World falls into. Writers Steve Niles and Philip Kim have created a solid first issue that although heavy on the pulp and classic horror tropes, kept me hooked throughout.

It’s 1933 and on the set of a horror movie, multiple people have been killed. We’re introduced to private investigator Henry Barrymore who has the stereotypical dark and messy office. As he narrates for the reader in a typewriter-like font, using lines like “I was still wiping blood from my face when she slinked in”, I was immediately thrown into the classic pulp genre and all the things we’ve come to expect from it. That may sound like a bad thing, but Niles and Kim embrace it and use it to their advantage. The story is simple, clear and with a hint of darker things to come.

Artist Piotr Kowalski is a great choice for the art. His style is simple in line, but uses quite a bit of dashed lines to render the shadows. There’s a beautiful last page that shows just how great his art can be using a heavy dose of blacks, but the technique he uses on the last page isn’t found on on every panel. I had a bit of a problem with the coloring. There were too many times that the monsters are lit up in panel to show them off, effectively losing some of the scares. It’s the mystery of what creeps in the dark that’s missing in certain panels and while I appreciate us being allowed to see the monsters up close, I would have preferred a bit more mystery of exactly what the monsters look like.

Monster World is a strong first issue, Steve Niles gets horror so the promise and potential of this series is high, and I’ll be back to read more!  Fans of monsters, noir, and classic pulp-type stories or horror movies should check out this new title from American Gothic Press.  Ask your local comic shop to order a copy if they don’t have it on the rack.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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