Graphic Novel Reviews

The Nightmare Factory Vol. 2

(2008) Thomas Ligotti, Fox Atomic (of Harper Collins), 10, pbk, pp??, ISBN 978-0-007-28048-3

This is the second graphic collection that presents Thomas Ligotti's horror stories in comic strip form from a collection of earlier written shorts of the same name and published in 1996. Here we get four stories with each having a page of introduction from the author himself. This graphic collection came out in 2008 in North America but was officially (according to the press slip with publication details) launched early in 2009 in Britain.

Of course if you are an SF fan who is not particularly into horror you may be asking who is Thomas Ligotti? This is a good question especially as he has not had the profile he arguably deserves. His horror is not of the splat-gore variety, nor is it post-apocalyptic. If you had to categorise him then his writing could be said to chime with that of H. P. Lovecraft or these days Brian Lumley: the scariest of it happens just off stage, out of sight, but you know full well it is there and have an idea of what is happening or is going to happen... Of course this last is the reader, but then that is the trick, to get the reader to do the hard work scaring the animal detritus out of their own self.

Having said that, serious horror fans will know of Ligotti as he has won three Stokers and also thrice has been short-listed for the World Fantasy Award.

As for the stories themselves we have:-

The Gas Station Carnivals. A man advises a friend to be careful who he upsets as his friend has insulted the powerful 'crimson woman'. He then tells his friend of a carnival that used to take place at the back of old, run-down, petrol (gas) stations. The carnival's only really worthwhile act was run by the showman himself. The showman always kept his face hidden but one day would turn around and claim whoever was there to see him... Could the showman be after the person who insulted the crimson woman...

The Clown Puppet has always appeared to the man just once in any location. Move on and after a while the sinister Clown Puppet will manifest himself again. But what does he want?

The Chymist works for a third-rate pharmaceutical company in the rundown part of town. The chemist himself wants to bring out the best even in this seedy part of town. So when he picks up a lady of loose virtue....

The Sect of the Idiot. Ever had a dream that seems so real? When our protagonist has one that takes him to a room across town with half-human monsters, he is thankful that it is only a dream. Until, that is, he goes for a walk and starts to recognise buildings from his dream. Are they connected?

If you are into literary horror and also graphic novels then this graphic collection of Ligotti shorts will haunt you.

Jonathan Cowie

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