THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, August 30, 2007
Thomas Ligotti is really one of the best-kept secrets in the horror field. He’s almost a throwback to supernatural writers of days gone by who could scare you without having to resort to blood & guts. Besides that, Ligotti is a fellow Detroiter and I’ve recently found we attended the same college, Wayne State University. He must be a great guy! Fox Atomic Comics has released an original graphic novel based on several of Ligotti’s short stories featuring art by some of the best in the business: Ben Templesmith, Ted Mckeever, Michael Gaydos, and Colleen Doran. Ligotti’s stories are adapted by writers Stuart Moore and Joe Harris and Ligotti provides and introduction to each of the four stories in this volume.
“The Last Feast of Harlequin” is a Lovecraft-inspired story very much in the same vein as “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. Here we have another strange old small town with creepy and rather unfriendly inhabitants who harbor a dark lineage. An anthropologist, who serves as the story’s narrator, comes to the town of Mirocaw for their annual winter festival. The man has a rather unsettling fetish with clowns and wants to participate in the festivities by dressing in his own clown costume. He finds himself shunned by the townspeople despite his best efforts to fit in with the festivities. He’ll soon find he has a dark connection to the others dressed in their bizarre clown make-up. Best story of the book by far I thought. Lovecraft influenced but with Ligotti’s own flair and possibly a central character even more off balance than those love ol’ Lovecraft.
“Dream of a Mannikin” features the best art in the book, courtesy of 30 Days of Night artist, Ben Templesmith. Weird dreams of manikins haunt the sleep of a therapist and his patient that soon have you questioning their sanity and their very existence. Templesmith is a genius in the use of colors and shading to evoke feelings and create an air of terror.
“Dr. Locrian’s Asylum” is almost as good as “The Last Feast of Harlequin” as the curse of an old, abandoned mental hospital is released on the residents of a town when they finally tear down the old building. Horrifying images soon begin to appear throughout the town in windows where there should be no people. McKeever’s caricaturist style is well-suited to the story. You get the feeling right from the beginning that there is something just not right about the town and McKeever manages to capture that sensation in his artwork.
Only the last story, “Teatro Grottesco” left me a little flat. This is an extremely odd take about the appearance of something called the Teatro and those artists that seek it out, or are themselves, sought out by the Teatro. It was all a little too existential for me but the painted artwork by Michael Gaydos was superb.
The horror scene in comics keeps getting better and better all the time and if Fox Comics and continue to put out fantastic titles like “The Nightmare Factory” they will be a force to be reckoned with…
Mania Grade: A-
Written By: Thomas Ligotti, Stuart Moore, Joe Harris
Art By: Various
Publisher: Fox Atomic Comics