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Two Horror Tales That Don't Bite

(This  Stripped column originally appeared in the October 30-November 5, 1997, Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)

by Beth Hannan Rimmels


"To the victor belongs the candy!"

— The monster in the basement in Scary Godmother

For a holiday that revels in imagination, Halloween doesn't inspire many comic books or graphic novels other than the obligatory vampire tales (and don't credit Anne Rice with starting the love affair with vampires; she raised the fever pitch a degree or two, but the erotic overtones of the elegantly undead have always sucked us in). This year, we have two fangless choices.

DC's Batman: The Long Halloween is a 13-part mini-series that began last Halloween and is wrapping up this October. A serial killer is dubbed "Holiday" for his or her penchant for shooting members of the Roman crime family with a .22 silenced by a baby bottle nipple and leaving behind a token of the holiday. The series actually plays like a cross between Batman and The Godfather. While wonderful as a story that keeps you guessing, I wouldn't hunt down the back issues if you haven't read it all along. Wait for the trade paperback that I'm sure will debut next year. Just hope DC doesn't wait for Halloween.

Snap up Jill Thompson's Scary Godmother (Sirius). You probably know Thompson's art from Sandman, Black Orchid, Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing. Unlike those titles, Scary Godmother is purely her own creation and clearly a labor of love-but not a labor to read. Of course, one look at the author's photo and the book's dedication shows why this project is so close to Thompson's heart — Scary Godmother has more than a passing resemblance to Thompson herself and her niece's name is Hannah.

In the story, Hannah Marie is a little girl finally deemed old enough to go trick-or-treating with her older cousin Jimmy and his friends. When Jimmy (accurately costumed as a devil) gets annoyed at Hannah's curfew ("Eight o'clock? That's too early!") and how her shorter legs slow them down ("She's slowing us down so much we'll never get to all the houses before we have to go home!"), he cooks up a scheme to scare Hannah into going home. Except it doesn't quite work the way he expects, and left in a "spook" house by herself, Hannah Marie gets to meet her Scary Godmother. Fairy godmothers may get more press, but, "A Scary Godmother loves the dark and creepy and unusual! We pop in when it's scary and we're always with you Halloween! I'm the Ambassador of Spooky and I'm here to introduce you to all of the things that go bump in the night!"

Scary Godmother proceeds to introduce Hannah to all her creepy friends and to teach Jimmy a lesson. Green-faced witches are not politically correct today (blame Margaret Hamilton), but Scary Godmother is such a blast that I think only the stuffiest modern pagan would object. If anything, the tiny lesson sneaked in about not assuming the worst based on one's appearance and rumors should please real witches.

The story is highly entertaining, and Thompson's artwork — which was always my favorite of the various pencilers for Delirium in Sandman — is delightfully daffy. Short enough to read in one sitting, this is a perfect Halloween treat.

News & Notes: Finally saw more than the teaser for Vampirella/Dracula: The Centennial. Is there any way to get James Robinson on Vampirella regularly? I really liked his Vampirella: Blood Lust. Now he tops himself with a fun twist on the fact that Vampy and Drac are fictional characters. It's particularly hard to steal the thunder when the other two stories in it are by Alan Moore and Warren Ellis, but Robinson does. Are you sure you need sleep, James?

Popular X-Men artist Chris Bachalo will be a guest from Nov. 3-7 on the game show Pictionary, which airs at 1:30 p.m. on WPIX-Channel 11.

Media Connection: Ed Menje and Ken Gale's guest on 'Nuff Said this week will be artist Jamal Igle, who has worked on Shi and the Shi/Daredevil crossover. His latest project is a non-superhero book geared to younger readers that he's doing with writer Alex Simmons. 'Nuff Said airs from midnight Nov. 2 to 1 a.m. Nov. 3 on WBAI-FM (99.5).


Column 1997 Long Island Voice. Batman: The Long Halloween artwork 1997 DC Comics. Scary Godmother artwork 1997 Jill Thompson.