The Existential Horror of the Vacuum Decay

I don’t care if the better part of the last several months has been a dumpster fire embodiment of a living calendar year, I will not allow it to ruin the holidays — and the holidays start with a scream. It is now time for the skeletons to come out of our closet and put out on display so that the neighbors’ kids can shake hands with them when time comes to knock on our door for handfuls of candy after dusk on the day that is the eventual all hallow’s eve. What better way to attempt to scare those passersby as they entertain the irony of skeletons hanging in vertical fashion symbolizing suburban secrets and disguised as home decor.

Enough scene-setting. This is my gentle nudge, my interjected suggestion, my elbow-to-the-ribcage reminder to not skip out on yourself while you sweat tirelessly plotting out priceless scares and lingering screams that will be had once final pieces to front porch masterpieces are completed. Let me point your direction toward a small section of the internet that houses a space for a miniature anthology with 40 full pages of black and white terror. This anthology of horror is called Vacuum Decay and it is now two issues into its terrorization of your mind.

First question: WTF is a vacuum decay? A quick google search proves that there is plenty of reason to name your horror anthology project after the thing that refers to a quick, clean and efficient way of wiping out the entire Universe. Talk about setting a scene, that’s one for the season that doesn’t need much else to get heads rolling.

Vacuum Decay #1 is a collective project that consists of stories of varying style, length, and delivery, but they all share a common purpose: to shake you, to scare you, to disturb you, and to hook you. The collection begins with a four page aptly themed rom-com titled Live Jazz, but the only one laughing is coming from the voice in your own head, the one that you swear is your own but in no way does is sound like you. This disturbing first person narrative in the moments leading up to a night out for jazz is the perfect way to set up for what is to follow in the stories ahead. 

Immediately after the suddenly stunted conclusion to Live Jazz the reader is taken on a “two week” journey through space by means of a story of which that appears to be nameless. The contrast to artistic style that is had with these two opening acts playing back-to-back presents an immediate expectation for a visually stimulating experience as you read yourself through a series of gruesome slices of life. 

Highlights from my perspective during my read through were the off-beat dark humor of anthology organizer, Harry Nordlinger, found in the Sunshine Strips toward the end of the collection as well as the contributions from Karmichael Jones (@cursegod). This entire gang of creators, ranging from the California Bay Area and abroad, are voices in comics that I hope to see more from. Each have their own vintage, but also fresh, voice to contribute to horror; some tend toward using dark humor to their advantage while others pull no punches and slash out some serious body horror. 

Last week was the official release of the second issue and from the looks of things there has only been more decadence to peruse upon. From the reoccurring Softer Than Sunshine strip to the newly acquired page design approach including creative panel layouts and splash pages, this second issue is a large leap forward in formatted quality. While both issues will shake you to your core, the newest will rattle them even more as it impresses your senses, leaving terrifying splash pages of horror to last longer than you thought possible.

Vacuum Decay will feel like familiar territory to those who remember the heyday of black and white horror anthology comics. These new stories tackling some classic comic tropes are sure to keep your bones shivering and summon a dark cloud lurking behind that you'll find hard to shake off.

Issue 1 has been available online for most of quarantine, and now we will have a second collection to gasp through just in time for Halloween. Both are available on the Vacuum Decay website either as a for-free pdf, or, for a fair price, you can be the proud owner of a physical copy. And coming from me, the owner of a second print Vacuum Decay #1, the quality of the physical copy is better than most of the others out there on the stands. That fact is enough for me to hand over cash for a copy of issue 2. 

Vacuum Decay #1
by David Enos, David Moses, Mike Diana, Cristian Castelo, Michael Falotico, Karmichael Jones, Harry Nordlinger, Jasper Jubenvill, and Jose Angeles

Vacuum Decay #2
by Malcolm Johnson, Geoffrey Krawczyk, Patrick Ian Rooks, Andrew Pilkington, Corinne Halbert, Jayrd Lantigua, Avy Jetter, Harry Nordlinger, and Karmichael Jones
OUT OCT 21st!