HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Graphic Depictions Today's Date:

Creatures of the Night

I think writing must be some kind of disease. People get infected with writing, and then they demonstrate symptoms of writing: stories and the like. But there must be some critical mass of infection that results in the behavior of some writers. Brian Michael Bendis has clearly hit some new echelon of contamination, which has him firing off a half-dozen titles every month, and Robert Kirkman has been showing signs of infection for years. I guess what I’m getting at is that writers don’t really stop writing, at least not the ones that we know and love.

All this writing leads to a library of work. You get writers that (a) write many titles that are usually fair to good as far as the content and quality (Bendis), (b) write many titles, some of which that are absolutely forgettable and some that are comic book history (looking at you Warren Ellis), or (c) writes one consistently excellent project after the next. It’s that last category that should concern us, as it pertains to this review of Neil Gaiman’s and Michael Zulli’s Creatures of the Night.

As I look through Gaiman’s bibliography, I’ve been trying to find something I didn’t like reading. I have not been successful, as I’ve either liked what he’s written, or I’ve not yet read it. So I came into Creatures with at least an expectation of decency. Creatures, which did not disappoint my expectations, is a collection from Dark Horse, collecting two short stories that originally found life in Gaiman’s anthology Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions. With a brusque rewrite by Gaiman, the two stories “The Price” and “Daughter of the Owls” found life in the funny books thanks to illustrator Michael Zulli.

“Daughter of the Owls,” the less exciting but passably entertaining is a short tale about an orphan left on the steps of a church, the only possession it has being an owl pellet clutched in her hand. Despite the strangeness of her arrival, the girl grows up to be a beautiful and solitary woman. When word of her beauty reaches town, some of the men folk get ideas.

This story, while not the better of the two, is still an interesting read with an ending that is appropriately creepy in Gaiman-esque fashion. He pulls off the short story format better than most writers, able to cram story where it has no business being crammed, but there are one or two problems with this one: the first being the unnecessary bookending of the story with the relation of the tale from one Englishman to another. The events of the story take place as written down by some Aubrey Johns, who is either a fictional writer that Gaiman concocted or someone more obscure than a Google search allows for. Johns might be a play on the anthropologist John Aubrey, but I doubt it. Either way, the addition of these two pages add little to the story, and could easily have been dropped in favor of more room for some eerie story hooks.

“The Price” is clearly the better story, eloquently mixing horror and characterization and paring it down to fit into short story format. This story reminds me the most of Gaiman’s work on Sandman, especially one particular story from the Dream Country collection.

"The Price" is the story of a man and a stray cat that begins hanging around his home. No stranger to cats, the man takes the Black Cat in. But when the Black begins showing up with wounds and scars all over his body, the man endeavors to find out what that cat has been doing. When he does discover the cat’s nocturnal activities, he learns his home isn’t as safe as he thought it was.

The fact that this is a short story is what really makes me appreciates Gaiman’s writing techniques, because he really has such solid story construction that the story feels longer. The rising action, climax, the falling action all occur but not once does the story feel rushed.

Also of note is Gaiman’s ability to mix up some great characterization in the form of the man and the cat. Given the limited space, he lets us get to know that man as a caring individual who is patient, kind, and appreciative. The cat stays a cat, mysterious and not human, but with Zulli’s expert artwork, the cat takes on so many human emotions, all layered over his animal expressions. It doesn’t make the cat seem human, but it highlights the ferocity and the intelligence of the animal. And to tell you what is happening with the cat would be telling, but it’s enough to say that this is the creepiest story about a cat I have ever read.

Zulli’s artwork is wonderful because it’s painted, something I think we really need more of in comics, along with some more mixed medium stuff. I’m not sure what he uses, but it looks like he uses pen an ink drawings and then colors them using waters colors, or possibly a washed out oil or acrylic. He either paints right over the ink, or paints first then defines with the ink. And in several places, I think he used some graphite or colored pencils to do line work. It ends up being excellent stuff, a real mixing of mediums that creates a sense of abject fear in some places and somber disquiet in others, all while being very colorful. I would love to see more comic book work from Mr. Zulli.

This is a great collection, a nice little hardcover for $12.95 and while it is rather thin, it’s more like a slim bit of quality. I also love the cover from Zulli, as it connects to both stories. He and Gaiman have a great way with composition and more projects would be appreciated from this duo. And since we all know Gaiman has the writing fever, we might actually see those one day.

Creatures Of The Night  

Robert Sparling

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites