The Last Feast of Harlequin – By Stuart Moore, Illustrated by Colleen Doran
Dream of a Mannikin – By Stuart Moore, Illustrated by Ben Templesmith
Dr. Locrian’s Asylum – By Joe Harris, Illustrated by Ted McKeever
Teatro Grottesco – By Joe Harris, Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
A graphic novel is a story that is presented in comic strip format and published as a book. It is different from a comic as it can have a standalone story and not a story arc as seen in comics.
The book “A contract with God” by Will Eisner was the first to popularize this format. Since then, graphic novels have created a niche for themselves in the literary world, occupied best-seller lists and garnered prestigious awards.
I picked up this book because of its beguiling cover – a stooped figure in a top hat looking at a seemingly abandoned house out of which a deluge of skulls is flowing. The back cover has an interesting quote from one of the stories: “A fractured mind is often the way into a world not suspected by those of an innocent normality.” This quote matched the mind frame that I was in at that time and so I decided to read the book.
The book consists of a collection of four stories based on ones written by Thomas Liggoti. Each story in this book is written and illustrated by different authors and illustrators. Fascinating information is given about them toward the end of the book.
I have realized that a graphic novel, when combined with the genre of horror can lead to an interesting outcome. The speech bubbles and the picture frames help to create a sense of claustrophobia that stayed with me long after I finished reading the book – the horror element seemed enhanced because everything was so vividly illustrated.
What I liked about the book was that each story has its own style of illustrations that complement the story they are telling. The story that creeped me out the most was “Dream of a Mannikin”. It looked like the least scary story in the book, but for me, it turned out to be the most disturbing one. “Dr. Locrian’s Asylum” reminded me of the T.V. series “American Horror Story”, as the setting is the same. “Teatro Grottesco” was an interesting one; about an artistic underworld that destroys the talent of any artist who learns of its secrets. “The Last Feast of Harlequin” will feed into your coulrophobia i.e. fear of clowns.
I would recommend this book more to horror fans than comic book fans.