The butcher knife goes in, first, at the top
And carves out the round stemmed lid,
The hole of which allows the hand to go
In to pull the gooey mess inside, out -
The walls scooped clean with a spoon.
A grim design decided on, that afternoon,
The eyes are the first to go,
Isosceles or trapezoid, the square nose,
The down-turned mouth with three
Hideous teeth and, sometimes,
Round ears. At dusk it's
Lighted, the room behind it dark.
Outside, looking in, it looks like a
Pumpkin, it looks like ripeness
Is all. Kids come, beckoned by
Fingers of shadows on leaf-strewn lawns
To trick or treat. Standing at the open
Door, the sculptor, a warlock, drops
Penny candies into their bags, knowing
The message of winter: only the children,
Pretending to be ghosts, are real.
It's that time of year again; Halloween season. While I have, in recent years, outgrown the Trick or Treating and mischief making most often associated with the holiday, I've discovered other activities that get me into that festive feeling; drinking strange alcoholic concoctions, attending Halloween parties, and perhaps most importantly, consuming all the Halloween entertainment I can withstand.
There's something extremely satisfying, even as an adult, about kicking back and watching Halloween television specials or horror movies. And reading Halloween and horror comic books, of course. It is in the spirit of the season that I've decided to share some of my favorite supernatural, horror, and Halloween comics. Some you may have heard of. Some, maybe not. Hopefully you'll enjoy them, and be motivated to share some of your own favorites.
Hector Plasm: De Mortuis
by Benito Cereno
and Nate Bellegarde
The Benandanti, which included both male and female members, were a small group of Shamanic witches that ensured the protection of the crops and villagers. Unlike most other occult organizations, the Benandanti were born, not made: only children born with "the caul," or the amniotic sac partially covering their face were destined to join the ranks of the Benandanti. The Benandanti were Shamanic witches, and their practices were quite unusual for shamanic magic. Reportedly, they commonly shapeshifted into mice, cats, rabbits, or butterflies. They used their powers to fight malignancy, decay, corruption, or anything symbolizing poor harvest or harsh weather. At some point, groups of these Shamans became the "bad walkers" who had been influenced by Christianity. The Benandanti would fight off the "bad walkers" using stalks of fennel, protecting the harvest, village, and the children from these "bad walkers."
Hector Plasm is one such Benandanti; raised by a variety of mystics and spirits, he exists as an ambassador between the spirit world and our own. Aided by two spirits, one a Sinner, and one a Saint, he and others like him walk the Earth, using their unique gifts to aid both the living and the dead.
The threats he faces are numerous and varied, changing from region to region, and spirit to spirit, constantly forcing him to change his approach. Of course, not all situations are resolved through violence, and not all ghosts are hostile.
Some might ask, how is this book different from Hellboy? Or even Atomic Robo? Well, for one, Hector hasn't yet fought any Nazis. But more importantly, Cereno pulls inspiration primarily from folklore concerning ghosts, spirits, and the like, with Hector's purview rarely extending to the infernal, the Lovecraftian, or the fae. No, he deals in the things people speak about over campfires, the things children whisper amongst themselves during sleepovers. He deals in the everyday eerie.
What also distinguishes the book is is its tone. Hector handles the strange, varied circumstances he finds himself in with a world-weary attitude, and a dry, been-there-done-that, sense of humor that's really engaging. However, it should be stated that this is not really a humor book. Because while you'll often find yourself smiling along with Hector on his adventures, you'll just as often suffer an emotional punch to the solar plexus. Hector does, after all, deal primarily with people who died in one terrible way or another.
If you can find it, I really recommend you purchase Hector Plasm: De Mortuis
. Failing that, check out the next installment, hitting shelves tomorrow, October 14th
, Hector Plasm: Totentantz
. If your comic shop failed to order it, bug them a little and, if they're worth a damn, they can probably get it for you in time for Halloween. That said, I leave you with a short Hector story, in its entirety.