Two Takes on Dread: Zack Soto & Rob Jackson

Posted by on January 13th, 2010 at 5:41 AM

Rob reviews Ghost Attack!? by Zack Soto and Great Deeds Against the Dead #2  by Rob Jackson.

Ghost Attack!? by Zack Soto:  Soto’s been mostly absent from comics in recent years after he published his interesting Studygroup 12 anthology and his own  The Secret Voice comics with AdHouse.  His comics have always been a convergence between Fort Thunder-style mark-making and straight-up genre comics.  This mini features two stories, one of which is a gruesomely visceral account of a prisoner expected to create something by his monstrous captor.  The creature is an insectoid nightmare out of H.P. Lovecraft–part tormentor, part judge but also part self-perceived benefactor.  Soto noted that this story was based on his experience in art school, and that showed in the nature of his tormentor.  The story reminded a bit of Dunja Jankovic’s Department of Art in the way that it exposes a certain frustration with the expectation of creativity in such a rigid and stressful environment.  The second story was one printed in Bird Hurdler, a cleverly-designed account of a a couple in the throes of severe communication difficulties.  Neither story was what I would consider to be Soto at his best, but rather felt like well-done warm-ups for further work.

Great Deeds Against the Dead #2 by Rob Jackson: Jackson concluded his oddly humorous tale of the supernatural by going way over the top with every horror-story trope he could think of.  He then added his usual level of complete lunacy by making the source of the story’s evil a sentient toy-dispenser (made out of a pile labeled “Evil toys”).  Jackson manages to throw in the ghosts of an Egyptian queen, a cannibalistic lawyer, time travel, a malevolent amusement park (which puts two supernatural investigators to work as employees in exchange for hot dogs), a beleaguered art gallery representative and other assorted wackiness.  It did feel like Jackson was wrapping things up a bit quickly in this comic, after the first issue was so much more languidly paced.  That feeling of the story being too jam-packed differentiated it from his usually more easy-going pacing, especially in his genre stories.  Still, the spectacle of an evil toy dispenser demanding the company of people in his amusement park was difficult to forget.  One senses that once Jackson went down a certain path in this story, he felt obligated to take it all the way, even if it wasn’t quite as fleshed out as some of his other works.

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