"Nightmare World: Volume One - Thirteen Tales of Terror" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Dirk Manning
Illustrated by Len O'Grady, Erich Owen, Anthony Peruzzo, Jeff Welborn, Kristen Perry, Mark Winters, Mark Matlock, Marven del Mundo, Jason Meek, Austin KcKinley, Josh Ross, Dan Boultwood, and Renae de Liz
Trade Paperback released on October 14th, 2009
The world of webcomics is a strange one. For every successful one there are at least a dozen that just don't go anywhere. There are even fewer still that make the jump to print. Nightmare World is one of those few. Image Comics began collecting the series that was originally published entirely online in a series of graphic novels. Thirteen Tales of Terror is the first of this bunch.
Nightmare World is a larger story that's told in pieces that are seemingly unconnected at first. Each tale can be read on its own and in any order. Readers that stick through the whole story will be rewarded with the bigger picture though. These thirteen comics are more on the independent side and aren't as tied into the overall arc. There are still hints dropped throughout that build up to the main storyline, but they're not as significant. Honestly, if it wasn't spelled out that these were all connected in some way, I wouldn't have known it from this volume.
Surprisingly, there isn't a bad story among the thirteen collected here. Each one stands on its own as a decent horror comic ranging from topics such as serial killers and demons to fairies and Cthulhu. Each one is only eight pages long, perfectly formatted for the digital age.
While author Dirk Manning handled the writing of each story, he had the help of a different artist per comic. Each one had their own style and this kept up with the ever-changing tone of the book as it went along. This allowed the graphic novel to stay fresh and gave every tale a chance to stand out. All of the artists turn in pretty stellar work, but some was definitely better than others. Jeff Welborn's pencils on You Oughta Know are amazing and easily on par, if not better, than most of the stuff coming out of the Big Two publishers today. Meanwhile, Marvin del Mundo's art on Freak on a Leash felt too cartoony for Nightmare World.
Each story has its merits, but I think my favorite is currently Try Honesty. It starts out as a cop confessing his love for his partner that begins innocently enough, but quickly turns into a startling murder plot. Mark Matlock's art reminds me a lot of Sean Phillips work on Criminal and works great with the noir tone set by the story. Of course, as I'm flipping through the book again, I'm having a tough time picking just one. Life in a Glass House is a great sci-fi tale which subtlety reveals the horrors that one man has committed. Not for You is a beautiful, yet tragic comic with an ending I did not seeing coming at all. I have to stop typing this or else I'm going to tell you how I liked each story.
Exclusive to the print version is a short prose story called The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell. Written by author Dirk Manning, it helps tie some of the stories together a little more clearly and provides a backdrop for the overall series. It's definitely worth checking out if you're looking to connect all the dots.
If you're interested in trying this out before looking for the print copy you can check out the entire series (minus the aforementioned prose story) online at Shadowline Online. You can read this on its own or you can look for the hints to the overall story. After reading the other volumes in the series I've gone back to re-read this one to look for all the Easter Eggs that were dropped along the way. Nightmare World: Volume One - Thirteen Tales of Terror is the perfect kind of introduction comic.
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