Horror of the Story Told: Monsters & Girls #2 and The Basket Ogress #1

Posted by on January 2nd, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Rob reviews two different takes on horror: THE BASKET OGRESS #1, by Colleen Frakes; and MONSTERS & GIRLS: AMELIA, PART 2.

MONSTERS AND GIRLS: AMELIA, PART 2 , by Denis St. John.  St. John’s comics are a blend of body horror, the humor of awkwardness and misplaced eroticism.  They’re always unsettling in the best kind of way, getting to the reader with a potent mix of the quotidian and the visceral.  This issue picks up the story of Amelia, a young woman who has managed to pick up two objects of great horror but finds herself pursued by a supremely creepy older man who covets the objects, as well as her brother, who has inexplicably transformed into a vampire-looking guy.  The issue starts with a dream wherein she’s pierced by the third object of power (a dagger), waking to find a weird mark on her stomach.

Where the issue starts to get great came when she woke up to find her brother and that creepy guy in that apartment, looking for the objects.  There’s a moment of hilarious awkwardness in her kitchen as he attempts to make small talk, followed by threats of violence, followed by attempted seduction, followed by Amelia outsmarting him.  What follows after that is a scene that’s like a cross between HP Lovecraft meets David Cronenberg, as the mark on Amelia’s stomach starts to transform into a sort of grotesque flower pod, meeting a “male” bioconstruct on the man’s stomach.  St John zooms into this scene in the most uncomfortable of ways, only to break the tension when her brother steps into the room, nonchalantly complaining about burnt eggs.  That scene is emblematic of St. John’s work: rubbery, suffocating, hilarious and outrageously designed.  The issue ends with Amelia violated but furious, and one can sense her rage hitting its target soon.  St. John’s ability to channel standard horror tropes along with other genres has resulted in an original result, and the final product promises to be something to look forward to.

THE BASKET OGRESS #1, by Colleen Frakes.  Frakes is one of the most prolific of the CCS alumni, and her storytelling instincts seem to become sharper with every story.  THE BASKET OGRESS got its start with a spectacular page in the first SUNDAYS anthology, detailing the ways in which the title creature used to eat children.  Here, Frakes has decided to weave a narrative around the legend in a way that was unexpectedly terrifying.  At a slumber party, two girls decided to trade scary stories with each other.  One decided to relate the story of the Basket Ogress, concluding with the notion that the creature could hear children anywhere.  When the Basket Ogress reached her hand through the window in real life, it was a genuinely stunning moment, one where it was clear that anything could happen in this story.

This issue sets up the conflict and aligns its players: the girl captured by the Ogress convinces her to spare her life while she told her stories (leading to a beautifully-drawn interlude about the legend of bluejay); the girl left behind tried to find a way to help her, only to realize that all of the adults in town had been put to sleep by the Ogress’ breath; and the family cat who magically started to speak.  The latter character is obviously a particular delight for Frakes to draw and write for and provides some of this issue’s best lines.  THE BASKET OGRESS has the potential to be Frakes’ best work yet, especially in the way she’s using blacks to create atmosphere.

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One Response to “Horror of the Story Told: Monsters & Girls #2 and The Basket Ogress #1”

  1. cfrakes says:

    Thanks for the review!

    You can buy both of these comics online at http://www.iknowjoekimpel.com/