Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Horror Comix Anthologies: The Big Book of Taboo

Taboo Issue 4 (1990): edited by Stephen Bissette and Nancy O'Connor, containing the following comics: Text pieces, interviews, and bios by Steve Bissette with Jean-Marc Lofficier; Front cover by Moebius; Back cover by Brian Sendelbach; Frontispiece by Nancy O'Connor; "Dreaming And The Law" written and illustrated by Phillip Hester; "1963" illustrated by Dave Sim; Untitled written and illustrated by Charles Burns; "Babycakes" written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Michael Zulli; "Cholesterol" written and illustrated by D’Israeli"; "Davey’s Dream" written by Mark Askwith and illustrated by Rick Taylor; "Eyes Of The Cat aka Les Yeux Du Chat" written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius (originally printed in France in 1978); "El Topo" written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Spain Rodriguez (originally printed in Europe in 1979);  "Retinal Worm" written and illustrated by S. Clay Wilson; "La Fugue {The Escape}" written and illustrated by P. Foerster;  "Blue Angel" written by Tim Lucas and illustrated by Steve White; "Morrigan Tales" written by Elaine Lee and illustrated by Charles Vess; "These Things Happen" written and illustrated by  Rick Grimes; "Neither Seen Nor Heard" written by L. Roy Aiken and illustrated by Mike Hoffman; From Hell, Chapter Three: Blackmail or Mrs. Barrett written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Eddie Campbell; From Hell Pin-Up illustrated by Alan Moore.

The fourth oversized paperback issue of the late, much-lamented Taboo contains a wealth of great horror and weird comics material. The high point is a reprint of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius's 1978 collaboration "The Eyes of the Cat," a lengthy weird horror tale made up entirely of gorgeous and occasionally disturbing full-page panels by Moebius. Combined with interviews with the two, it makes for quite a treat. Spain Rodriquez's odd 'tie-in' to the Jodorowsky film El Topo completes this part of the package.

The rest of the anthology is excellent as well, from the third serialized chapter of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's epic graphic novel about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, to a horrifying bit of insect craziness from underground comix mainstay S. Clay Wilson. Elaine Lee writes a fascinating new-wave fairy tale illustrated by Charles Vess in his old-school, Hal Foster by way of N.C. Wyeth style. Most of the short pieces are genuinely horrific, and it's interesting to see relatively early, non-Sandman Neil Gaiman as illustrated by the fine, overlooked Michael Zulli, and very early Phil Hester writing and drawing. Taboo was very much cutting-edge horror for its time, and rewards reading now if one can find issues of it. Highly recommended.

The Big Book of the Unexplained: written by Doug Moench; illustrated by Russ Heath, Sergio Aragones, Brent Anderson, Joe Sacco, Steve Leialoha, and many others (1997): Another enjoyable entry in Paradox Press' 'Big Book of' series of single-author, multiple-artist comics anthologies from the 1990's. This foray into the world of UFO's, cryptids, and general all-around Fortean madness (indeed, a cartoon version of Charles Fort is our narrator) is fun stuff with a wide variety of artists working in a wide variety of styles to alternately creep the reader out and make the reader laugh while, perhaps, thinking a little, at least about the credulity of the human animal. Recommended.

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