‘Tis the season for nostalgic creepy content, and DC Comics’ Black Label is getting on board this year — with a little help from a horror icon.
Whether you’ve seen IT CHAPTER 2 three times or gone bonkers waiting for Shudder’s new CREEPSHOW reboot, it’s clear to horror fans that 80s-tastic retro goodness has never been more prevalent — and what better way to capitalize on the trend than by hiring Joe Hill (NOS4A2, LOCKE & KEY, also happens to be Stephen King’s son) to curate a collection of brand new throwback horror comics?
DC’s adult-oriented Black Label (a kind of spiritual successor to Vertigo) is introducing HILL HOUSE next month, an imprint featuring brand new horror series, and they have just released a teaser for the first three: BASKETFUL OF HEADS, THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY, and THE LOW, LOW WOODS.
BASKETFUL OF HEADS is written by Hill himself and illustrated by Leomacs (LUCIFER) and follows the story of June Branch, whose 1983 summer takes a turn for the surreal when she must avenge an act of violent crime with an ancient Viking axe. The axe, as you’ve probably surmised, takes of people’s heads with one blow; but the heads keep talking in this case, necessitating the eponymous basket — which is shown in the teaser as having a kind of handkerchief over the top fit for going to a picnic in the park. It sounds utterly bonkers, and in the sample itself, the supernatural summer adventure trope celebrated in shows like STRANGER THINGS and all of Stephen King’s best work is alive and well, complete with meddling police officer and ominous suicide bridge. Retro perfection.
DOLLHOUSE FAMILY comes from comics guru Mike Carey (HELLBLAZER) and artist Peter Gross (LUCIFER), reuniting the creative team from Vertigo’s THE UNWRITTEN. It appears to be another high-concept mindf–k from Carey, featuring a young girl named Alice in the early 80s (naturally) who escapes a world of domestic abuse by shrinking down, ALICE IN WONDERLAND-style, to hang out with the doll family in her dollhouse. From the teaser, it becomes apparent that the dolls themselves may be people who have forgotten their previous lives, and that the house has a mind (or an appetite) of its own. Expect meta-textual craziness and multiple layers of narrative from this one — Carey always delivers on those fronts.
In December, Carmen Maria Machado (HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES) and Dani (TALES FROM THE STRIPS) will bring us THE LOW, LOW WOODS, a coming-of-age story that takes place in a bizarre town full of inexplicable curiosities. The town, called “Shudder-to-Think” (nice glam rock reference there, folks!), becomes even more sinister after two teenage girls wake up in a movie theater with the credits rolling and no memory of how they’ve spent the past few hours. The “directed by Rob Reiner” opening panel is a clever wink to films like STAND BY ME, and there promise to be plenty of creepy creatures in play here, from “Skinless Men” to “Deer Women”.