The first thing I want to say about this comic is…. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. All three of us read it, and I’m the one who volunteered to review it because Goat Leader said, and I quote, “it’s not really my cup of tea”, and Jolly Goat was so offended by this comic that they’re actually angry. Jolly Goat has ironically become the angriest goat of all of us. It’s hilarious.
SICK ‘N TWISTED (#1) is comprised of 3 stories: Dead C (story by Joseph M. Monks, art by Jason Moser), The Party’s Over (story by Joseph M. Monks, art by Quinton Hoover, inks by Randy Zimmerman), and The Halloween Machine (story by Joseph M. Monks, art by Will Pleydon).
The front cover design (by Andrew Mangum and Gene Jimenez) is gorgeous, glossy, and eyecatching. Jolly Goat said they like the artwork but not the woman’s outfit and thinks it’s sexist. I laughed when JG said this because I already knew what lay beyond the cover, and knew that if JG was already offended by the cover, the actual contents were going to infuriate them. I see Jolly Goat’s point, but sort of disagree. The character design reminds me of several video games I like, and she looks hard as nails. The zombies/monsters on the cover look scary, and there’s already blood and gore. I do think it rather encapsulates the overall themes of the stories inside.
The first story, DEAD C, is sick. It’s twisted. It’s depraved. It’s about a sicko called Denny and an even sicker sicko called Terry who go to see a dead body. Now, if you’re thinking of Stephen King’s ‘The Body’, just go ahead and remove that from your mind. This does not have the wholesome feel of Stand By Me. The artwork is terrific (even if the images burn out your eyeballs). The story is gross. Jolly Goat left sticky notes in it and on the last page the note said, ‘wtf did I just see?!’ HAHAHAHAHAHA.
One thing that I did find jarring was the layout of the text boxes. Sometimes, when people are conversing, the text boxes aren’t quite laid out properly, so the order that I read the dialogue in got jumbled. It was annoying but not a major flaw, really. Content-wise, I see why a lot of people wouldn’t like this. It’s not for the faint of heart. Or those even with a heart. Hehehehe.
The next story, The Halloween Machine, is a winner for me because it features zombies. An unlikely pair – polar opposites – survive together in the zombie apocalypse. Sort of a self-discovery, building-of-self-esteem tale, featuring a kickass, androgynous female protagonist. This is my favourite story in the comic. Once again, the artwork is great – completely different style to the first story, and the zombie illustrations are awesome.
So then we get to the third and final story, The Party’s Over, and this is where Jolly Goat lost their mind. This is about some bros who go to a party and make a truly heinous decision, with dire consequences for the main culprit of the crime that’s committed. I didn’t start ranting the way Jolly Goat did, but I do agree with several of the things they disliked. Firstly, the story feels a bit out of place because it’s the only one that doesn’t include supernatural/sci-fi elements. If the format of this comic series is 3 stories per issue, I think it might benefit from organising each issue by subgenre, or at least similar elements. Secondly, what happens in the story is horrible to not only read, but see, because obviously it’s illustrated. I love splatterpunk and extreme horror but even for me, this was a bit much, and I think it’s because it ended with a punchline. And that punchline was nothing to do with the victim, but how a horrid realisation affects the perpetrator. I guess I just didn’t “get” what the writer was going for with this, and for that reason, I didn’t like it. Matt Shaw’s Sick Bastards is absolutely jam-packed full of hideous content but it’s one of my favourites, so I can only conclude that my discomfort with the final story in this comic comes from the way it was told, the point of it, and how it was “resolved”.
Jolly Goat’s sticky notes read as follows:
“Are you f***ing kidding me with this story?! Vile and disgraceful!”
“Fuming beyond all rationale.”
“There’s exploitation horror and then there’s this.”
Now – to be serious for a moment, this particular story should carry an extreme content warning. It depicts SA and the way it’s handled – if you’re a typical person capable of empathy – will make your blood boil. It does state on the cover of the comic that it’s for a mature audience, but that’s not the same as a content/trigger warning.
If you’re one of those people who think that those who need trigger warnings shouldn’t be reading horror, then to you I say this – horror shouldn’t be exclusive. Everyone should get to enjoy it. I’m not saying that absolutely every topic needs to carry a warning but giving people who might need them a heads up (especially with subject matter as heavy as SA) is just the courteous and considerate thing to do. Trigger warnings don’t take anything away from people who don’t need them.
In conclusion, I enjoyed two out of three of the stories (and two out of three ain’t bad, as they say). I absolutely would not recommend it to people with SA triggers, but would recommend it to a general extreme horror audience. I very much liked the work of every artist, and enjoyed the change of artistic style from story to story too.
If you’d like to dive into the SICK ‘N TWISTED world of Joseph M. Monks (an extremely interesting person, by the way), check out the website here:
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