January 10, 2009

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Dark Horse Book of Hauntings

Written by Various Writers
Illustrated by Various Artists
Dark Horse

This is the third of the "Dark Horse Book of ..." series, and while it does not contain a knock-my-socks-off story like the Monsters edition did, I think this may be my favorite overall. The quality level of the anthology is stronger here, even weighed down by an interview of a medium somewhere toward the middle.

As always editor Scott Alie (who writes one of the stories) sets the tone with a personal tale, this time of his own personal ghost. I find the concept of haunting fascinating, and while I leave myself open to the idea that a haunting is possible, I have never had one. (So any unemployed ghosts are welcome to contact me.) He suggests reading in order, and I agree, as the stories flow rather nicely together (another reason I like this one the best so far).

First off is P. Craig Russell adapting a haunted house story in his beautiful style, as two kids dare each other to enter a condemned building, with terrible results. Next is the requisite Hellboy story, always a fun time. I think the idea that Mignola made short Hellboy stories for each of these anthologies was a nice touch.

We also have a classical story adapted with illustrations modeled on the old magazine prints, about another sinister haunted house, which leads me to Alie's contribution, a story that gives a new spin on the concept.

There's a curse on the next story, with an important lesson--don't piss off your tattoo artist, while a man takes a boy to a haunting in the weakest story of the collection. After the medium, we get a story of two boys, both outcasts, though some children are more outcast than others. Paul Chadwick of Concrete does this art for this, and his simplistic, realistic imaages work well here.

Last but not least, Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson go to the dogs--literally, in a touching story that shows not all hauntings happen to humans. I particularly like the interplay between the dogs and their cat friend in this one. It's a great closing tale that provides a little bit of hope amongst the haunted and the haunters.