Review: Monochrome Menace

Review by David Ferguson

Art by Liam Cuthbert, Podge Daly, Liam Hughes, Cethan Leahy, Rob Anthony and Joseph Griffin
Written by Emmet O’Brien, Liam Hughes and Cethan Leahy
Lettered by Joseph Griffin, Alice Coleman, Paul Mote and Cethan Leahy
Cover by Brandon Dawley
Additional design by Paul Mote
Pin-Ups by Damien Duncan, Cormac Finan and Podge Daly

Anthologies can be a tough beast to review. So many creators are involved and the stories are short so it is difficult not to spoil. I’ll endeavour to try though. The overall theme of the book is 1950s eras horror. I think the overall design of the book nailed this and each story is pretty effective in evoking the time period. The stories are introduced by “The Crypt Doctor”.

Usually I go story by story but with Emmet O’Brien doing the bulk of the writing, I’m going to cover his stuff first (of course mentioning the artists’ contributions). I was quite impressed with Emmet’s contribution to this book as he shows quite the range in style. My first compliment will seem like not a compliment at all (to him or artist Liam Cuthbert) but what I really enjoyed is how, in the story “Monochrome Menace”, he nailed the terrible dialogue and Liam nailed the cheap special effects of the vintage science fiction movie they created. There is a certain skill to come up dialogue that nails the often cheesey words that came out of the characters’ mouths. I also just loved seeing the cheap model UFOs with visible strings. The ending was also a nice nod to some well-known sci-fi story.

Next up for Emmet are some one panel “Spook Strips” with Rob Anthony which are one panel jokes based on some well known ghost and monster stories. Funny stuff (I particularly enjoyed the Scrooge one). Rob’s cartoonish creations were a perfect match for the tone of the strips. I was quite impressed by his work here. The next one “X-ray Sunshine” brings more humour (but dark this time) as a young boy gets more than he bargains for from some x-ray specs. Podge Daly has a cartoony style that really suits the humour but there’s an edge to the art that allows the dark humour to be effective. “Body Of Work” (excellent title) is played more straight than Emmet’s other stories as he and Joseph Griffin craft a tale about an actor who is growing bitter about being stuck in a role. Kind of an interesting take on how Hollywood treats people. There is some darker humour here. Joseph really plays his role with a more realistic style than the other artists.

“Waiting For Something Wild” which is both written and drawn by Liam Hughes is a story about Graham the werewolf who just seems to want to be left along. It is fun little story and Liam’s art really suited the horror theme. Cethan Leahy’s “Terrible Plans” lampoons the mad scientist. Another fun story that to go into too much would ruin the plot. His art kind of stands out as the lines are much later than the darker hues of the other stories.

An excellent anthology that really makes the overall theme work with clever design throughout. The stand-out for me would have to be the title story and I have to commend Emmet O’Brien on his writing and how he gave us four stories with enough of a variety to please the reader and with four pretty different artists. I think their styles really matched up with the stories. I think that can be said for all the artists. Great choices.