(The Quad-Shot, 2013)
Created by Michael Drace Fountain, Marcel Losada,
James Ninness, and Joe Pezzula
Artwork by Various
Colors & Lettering by Ben Gilbert
Designed by Shannon Forey
Horror comics come and go with the ages. In the 50’s EC did it’s very best to entrance the children of America all the while making their parents blanche at the images contained therein. Later there were the somewhat tamer horror comics of the 60’s through the 80’s, and then we had the emergence of a new type of mainstream horror comic. 30 Days of Night, The Walking Dead, and the newer reboots like Creepy, have all brought horror mainstream. It is a big money maker, but sometimes a very far cry from what Bill Gaines was doing with the Crypt Keeper in the 50’s.
On and independent level though, there are still creators working in that spirit, and one of those books is InSanity, AZ.
Created by Michael Drace Fountain, Marcel Losada, James Ninness, and Joe Pezzula, InSanity is the kind of indie book that Gaines and Co. would have devoured, simply because it’s unlike many things on the popular market today.
Welcome to Sanity, AZ. population a whole bunch of crazy. There is something about this book, some special brand of insane, that is distinctly disturbing to read. I found that, in reading the entire graphic novel at one go, as I was getting through the second volume I was getting…almost shell-shocked. The images, though not gory for the most part, are violent and disturbing, and that leads to a creepy read.
It’s a mish mash of styles…from the blocky cartoon to closer to realistic, but the style wasn’t enough to turn me off. It works for this book.
Sanity is a town literally populated by the descendants of an asylum that has undergone the Crypt Keeper treatment. (Tales From the Crypt, Season 3, Episode 5, entitled “Top Billing”) The residents have taken over and built a town around the defunct building, and keep their town “pure” by breeding “eatin’ cats” as well as fertilizing the orchard nearby with unfortunate travelers who stop for gas. But it’s the constancy of the crazy, the fact that the actual sane part of Sanity touches the story so irregularly, and the constant barrage of crazy images and themes, that makes this a hard book to read in a sitting. But I think that may be part of the point. It a schizophrenic read to be sure.
It reminds me of Twin Peaks in some ways. You get little snippets of the bigger, crazy-ass picture. Each small tale only takes a couple of pages to read, but you get glimpses into each of the characters, you see a little of the back story, but each issue is 50 pages or more long, and that’s a lot to digest. (The trade is the collected first three issues.) As with Twin Peaks, you learn a little about the characters through the lens of the larger plot, and that’s an interesting way to see a complete story.
So. How do I fall on this one? Though not particularly in my wheelhouse, this book has merit. I think that reading it in short bursts makes for an easier overall read, as some of the images can be disturbing, but of course there are those that can devour this kind of thing as quickly as a skinned cat, and that’s okay too. I do think these kinds of books are truly in the spirit of EC Comics, in that they push the envelope of what we see in on the spinner racks. (Some places still have those right?) And if that is your benchmark then InSanity, AZ. is the perfect next step in horror comics.
You can download the “InSanity, AZ” Original Soundtrack here.
Click Image to Purchase “InSanity, AZ” From Amazon.com:
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.