'Little Terrors: Origins - A Living Hell.'
Written by Patrick Cline.
Art by Brett Uren.
Colours and Letters by Jon Scrivens.
Cover art by Matt Rooke.
Published by Ian Hine for Dead Universe Publishing.
Hang on to your underwear this will get a little messy. This book isn't for the faint hearted.
Listen. I am old. I remember video nasties and the fact that us 14 year olds could wander into a video shop and rent whatever we fancied. 'Zombie Flesh Eaters', 'Cannibal Holocausts', Deranged Axe murderers. But the movie that really freaked me out and began my life long obsession with horror auteur David Cronenburg was the his movie 'The Brood'. Deranged mutant children and body horror at its best 1979 craziness. Disturbing more than any other movie I saw of the time.
And that's what Little Terrors seems to be channelling, at least in my brain anyway. Had this been made in the late 70s I'd suggest a solid 'X' rating.
This book suckers you in with with its fake photo booth chums on the cover then opens your eyes up with a scalpel with the interiors. It's based on a series by Jon Scrivens and designed as an intermission in the ongoing series between issues 3 and 4. I haven't read those issues yet so was coming to this blind.
This book is incredibly violent and gorey. It could put an Avatar comic to shame in that respect. It tells the stories of three characters who each in their own ways become deformed somehow. Told in each case within the confines of a few rooms in their respective houses. It's immensely claustrophobic. Eyes fly out of sockets, throats are cut and skin literally melts off a skeleton.
It's pacey and has a specific mood with some strong horror styled speech. I enjoyed it mainly for what it was trying to succeed at and it feels like the origin issue of a much longer denser run. The splash pages on the whole work within the framework of the story as well. But (and this may be because of my unfamiliarity with the accompanying series) I was a little confused at first and it took me almost until halfway through the book to differentiate between protagonists. (Some titled panels indicating changes in location possibly? Just a suggestion.)
It's the narration that really crackled for me. It works excellently within a tight knit horror like this, adds to the tension and helps the flow between eye popping horror and slow build ups. The writer has a strong through line of creepy reminiscing and breathless tension. I particularly liked the opening pages that build to a shock page turn.
I did however have fun with it and haven't seen much like this on a shelf (or indeed a top shelf). If I had a niggle with it I would say that's the artwork could do with a brush up in the anatomy in certain panels. The colouring needs to shift palette in my humble opinion? They have gone with a mainly red background and had this been handled differently the blood and fire effects could have had more of a dramatic impact.
But what it loses in some art aspects it makes up for in sheer enthusiasm. I had a chat with the writer Patrick on a recent visit to Dead Universe Comics in Aylesbury (both a comic shop and the publishers of this and other books). He and Ian (who runs the business) are quite literally two of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met and putting out books like this is great for the small press. I shall keenly watch for what they put out next. I see that Pat has another book due soon, now just hurry up so I can see it!
A solid 4/5.
You can visit the website www.littleterrorscomic.com or follow the writer on Twitter @patmancline
Alternatively pop into Dead Universe in Aylesbury and spend a couple of hours going through their extensive back issues (I know I have on many an occasion). They can be found online at www.deaduniversecomics.co.uk or on Facebook.
Thanks for reading.