"Six" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Believe In Comics
Written by Fabian Rangel Jr
Illustrated by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Karim Whalen, Ricardo Venancio, Valentin Ramon Menendez, Cody Schibi, and Jason Copland
2014, 64 Pages
The anthology is a tried and true aspect of the horror genre. There's something so perfect about assembling several short and scary stories in one place. It's been working for decades, dating back to the days of EC Comics and Tales from the Crypt, and it continues to this day with Creepy and FUBAR. Fabian Rangel Jr has contributed works to a number of anthologies over the past few years, and now he's collected those horror tales into one collection dubbed simply Six. Now fans have a one-stop shop for all of his short horror work in this new, independently published volume. Rangel writes all of the comics included in Six, but each one was drawn by a different artist.
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What is immediately impressive about Six is the variety of content. There are all types of horror stories within these pages. Zombies, vampires, ghosts, and some downright terrifying monsters are just some of the creatures that fill this volume. I don't envy short story writers at all, as it must be very difficult to tell a complete plot in so few pages. Rangel uses the small amount of space well. No panel is wasted. He's able to pack an emotional punch with each tale that will stick with you even though you don't have the full history of the characters. I found myself caring more about some of these people (who often go nameless) than I do about many currently published ongoing titles (I'm looking at you, Justice League).
Although all of the stories are good, if I was forced to pick a favorite, it would probably be the opening tale entitled "The Blood and the Snow." It's a horror fantasy featuring a warrior woman trudging through the snow, determined to avenge the death of her family at the hands of undead monsters. As she struggles through the forest, a dark voice taunts her, egging her on. Her path is simultaneously filled with hope and despair as it's uncertain if she'll survive long enough to attain the vengeance she seeks. Jonathan Brandon Sawyer's artwork is crisp and clean. There's a great contrast between the innocent woman this character once was and the hardened warrior she has become after the trials she's faced. They're like completely different people. There is also one truly awesome panel as she slams her sword into the face of a giant zombie.
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While "The Blood and the Snow" is my favorite story in Six, it is not the scariest. That easily goes to "When the Evil Came." It follows a woman that is driven insane by monsters that may or may not be real, ultimately tearing her family apart. Rangel keeps you guessing throughout the whole story as you're not quite sure what to trust. It felt very Lovecraftian in how these creatures could drive a person into madness. This is certainly helped along with Cody Schibi's artwork. It reminded me a bit of Frank Quitely's art, but way more terrifying. Every other page has something that is just unsettling, like a completely unnatural event happening in an otherwise totally normal setting. Maybe a centipede crawls out of an old man's nose or a woman wakes up covered in spiders that only she can see. It only gets stranger and scarier as the story continues.
Six is a top notch horror anthology. Rangel clearly knows a thing or two about scary stories. As mentioned before, there is not a bad tale in this bunch. Every story delivers and hits on a real emotional level. This isn't about a bunch of gore (although there's plenty of that). This is about the people within these horrific situations, and that makes a big difference.