5 Great Modern Comics From Genre Movie Legends | Fanboys Anonymous

5 Great Modern Comics From Genre Movie Legends

Posted by Dan Ashley Monday, January 13, 2014
At the most recent Ghastly Awards, one legendary filmmaker strode past popular titles such as Dark Horse's BRPD and Vertigo's Coffin Hill to take the award for best ongoing title. It brought up a reoccurring theme regarding the noble comic book and its place in the world today!

Clive Barker's The Next Testament series features revolutionary artist Haemi Jang
Errm...
Before Marvel and DC started the superhero movie hype, it was considered that television and video games were ruining the movie industry. It's still a valid point. Marvel and DC have their own respective businesses to go back to at the end of the day and don't have to count on cinema goers alone. Some film studios, such as 20th Century Fox, also belong to multimedia conglomerate monsters for whom a $100 million budget is a drop in the ocean (probably why so many big projects are a steaming crock).

Being an 80s kid brought up with the best in cult horror and sci-fi, I really do miss the days when filmmakers weren't forced to cater to their producers' tastes in order to make a great movie. It's very hard to get funding for a movie these days without having to bend over backward (or any other way) and be a Yes-man.

Genre movies once had a great sense of working class spirit about them, unlike the vapid supermodel generation of films from the past decade whose cinema releases did no justice even by the original era of direct-to-video releases. Sure, they could have done with much better budgets, but whatever they lacked in looks, they made up for in unlimited reserves of character.

If there is any one contender with videogame and television, it's comics. Today you can have everything you want crammed within the pages of a comic book and have more quality and quantity for equal or less than the cost of a cinema ticket. Even better, some of the greatest minds of the best eras in cult cinema history are jumping on the bandwagon. So bend over, Hollywood!

I bring you five great modern comic books from the makers of cult classic cinema!

John Carpenter's ASYLUM

Artist Leonardo Manco illustrates John Carpenter's Asylum with amazing artwork

You will know his movies: Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, the wacky Big Trouble in Little China; they're all part of one of the most memorable runs in movie history when Carpenter was making one awesome movie for just about every year of the 80s. After that, he kind of burned out, and producers were investing less and less, and after Ghosts of Mars, he went into semi-retirement.

Between the 80s and mid-90s, Carpenter made three movies as part of an unofficial trilogy—much like Edgar Wright's "Three Flavours Cornetto"—known as the "Apocalypse Trilogy." These included The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In the Mouth of Madness, all tied together by the theme Carpenter loved to play with the most: the inevitable losing battle of humanity versus extinction.

So when the legendary director, his wife Sandy King, and actor Thomas Ian Griffith (Karate Kid 3, Vampires) got together to create this monster of a series, that memorable theme came back with a few hints from Carpenter's memorable moments.

Based in Los Angeles, the ultimate battle between humanity and evil is set to begin. All over the city, in the dark alleys among the homeless and in the sewers among the rats, demons inhabit the shadows. The devil is preparing to open a portal into the city, which will prove to be the end for all of us. One man sees. Father Daniel Beckett has seen demons before. He's even spoken to the devil, but he's never seen an angel or spoken to God. So as the end nears, the one man that could end this, God's own warrior, stands at war with God himself!

John Carpenter's Asylum comic reminiscent of classic horror

Written for the page by Bruce Jones and beautifully pencilled by Leonardo Manco, Asylum's artwork literally burns up the pages like a hellish inferno, and it really does feel like Carpenter on a big budget. Read through any volume of the series, and it's just as though the Preacher Garth Ennis would have written, had he really wanted to make his fans feel like God hated them.

Colorful characters and even more colorful violence abound. This really does make up for Carpenter's absence from the big screen, and it's great to see him working with others, because he's a good writer alone, but a great writer on a team of likeminded people.

George A. Romero's EMPIRE OF THE DEAD

George Romero Marvel vampire zombie miniseries Empire of the Dead

This series was meant to be released by Marvel by Halloween of last year, originally teased as Marvel of the Dead! However, as much as you can't keep an old legend like Romero down—the man who singlehandedly made the zombie horror subgenre one of the most terrifying of all time—he is a sucker for perfection when it comes to his own writing.

One of the many directors to suffer a long time for his art, Romero never wanted to make just horror films. More precisely, he never wanted to make just zombie movies. Yet his dramas didn't catch fire quite like his genre movies. Once upon a time, he would have told you he'd have liked to make a Batman or a Spider-Man movie, which makes you wonder why he never got into comics sooner. This godfather of horror shares many similarities to the godfather of comics, Stan Lee. Of course, he did make Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside.

With Empire of the Dead, Romero drops his usual formula of humanity versus zombie epidemic, but takes the basics and that reoccurring theme of old: zombies beginning to think for themselves. Only this time, New York City being the setting for this postapocalyptic horror, vampires are now in the mix, and their curse doesn't just pass onto humans.

Marvel Zombies artist Alex Maleev works with George Romero

Empire of the Dead is set for release early this year and will be a fifteen-issue miniseries exclusively for Marvel.

Guillermo Del Toro's THE STRAIN

Guillermo Del Toro The Strain parasitic vampire plague

Now, we all know that Guillermo Del Toro isn't one of your longest-standing legends, but the Hellboy and Pacific Rim creator and director has been one of the most consistently original, hardworking, and successful genre directors in a very long time. In fact, it's safe to say that he's revolutionized and redefined the genres he loves so much.

I mentioned a few months back that a TV series would be adapted from this comic by Del Toro himself, and so it had to be on the cards!

The Strain was released in comic book format some years ago now, adapted from Del Toro's novel (because some fools originally said no to his TV series pitch), and was a hit. So no surprise that the TV series is now going ahead.

When CDC agent Ephraim Goodweather is called to JFK airport to investigate a possible terrorist dirty bomb on board a blacked-out Boeing 747, he discovers something much worse that chills his blood and leads to events that threaten not just the city but the whole world.

Guillermo Del Toro comic series amazing Mike Huddleston vampire art

An undying evil breaks an ancient truce. One elderly and seemingly crazy citizen of Spanish Harlem knows what awaits, and it is up to him, a survivor of the holocaust, to warn Dr Goodweather. As it happens, it may be too late before the vampire virus has completely destroyed the city.

I cannot recommend this series enough. Rather than just your average vampire feature, it views the victims of the plague as a parasitic race. Knowing Del Toro, it's got to make your skin crawl. Artist Mike Huddleston certainly delivers. Even within the pages of a comic, this series is suspenseful and atmospheric. This ought to be a comic fan's collector's item!

Lance Henriksen's TO HELL YOU RIDE

Lance Henriksen Aliens Bishop actor comic book writer

Probably the least expected is this oddity from one of the greatest character actors of our time, Lance Henriksen (Bishop from Aliens, Frank Black from Millennium)!

For those of you who like their stories a little/lot more old school, there is nobody like Henriksen for telling a story, and as a working class actor of many decades, he has traveled a lot and had many strange experiences on those travels. To Hell You Ride, a five-issue miniseries, was based on one such experience.
"I went to Telluride, Colorado, at one point, almost twenty years ago. When I got there, it wasn't the ski resort it is now. It had skiing, but not to the degree that it does now. I'm sitting in a bar there and I'm thinking, this is a box canyon, it's sort of the end of the world in terms of travel, and I looked around me and saw all these people and thought they were reincarnated miners and hookers. They didn't even know why they were there, but they were there.

What leaped into my mind was a line of a Dylan Thomas poem: 'The ball I threw while playing in the park has not yet reached the ground.' Which gave me almost the whole form of the prologue of our story.

I remember when I was sixteen, there was a Urok Indian that I met. At sixteen, I was kind of a wild kid, and this guy took me under his wing. His father had been an elder, a medicine man. He told me this story about something his grandfather had done. The cops came to this guy and said, 'a girl's gone missing, we can't find her, we need your help.'

And the guy walked out of his house backwards, down the road and through the town, and people were following him. He never turned around, he walked the whole thing backwards, and he ended up deep in the woods. He turned around and there was a flat rock there, and he said, 'she's here.' They flipped the rock over, and the girl was there, dead. That resonated with me and joined in with my thoughts about Telluride while I was there. This was a mining town, and it had all the old derricks and all that crap, and all the old mine tunnels, a lot of mercury in the ground at the edge of town toward the mountains. I thought, oh man, this is some story!"

Lance Henriksen Native Indian horror mystery comic miniseries

Yeah, I'm just gonna let that work on your curiosity!

Clive Barker's THE NEXT TESTAMENT

Hellraiser director resurrects jesus in comic book series

I went and saved the most strange and profound until last. Clive Barker—Who knows horror films and doesn't know Clive Barker? Who knows novels and doesn't know Clive Barker? Who knows video games and doesn't know Clive Barker? Well, probably the odd one or two.

The Hellraiser writer and director has been at it for decades now. At what, I'm not sure I want to say. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and fetishist (from my fair city of Liverpool) has even created comic book characters before, andwritten for other peoples' characters, but The Next Testament is his debut original story featuring completely original characters.

Clive Barker gory head explosion death scene
And some gore!
All you have to do is watch any of his films—Candyman, Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions—to see what kind of sick and twisted joy you'll be exposed to. Or maybe it could be the other way around?

Next Testament is a sort of retelling of Genesis from the bible. Julian Demond, a captain of industry, has dropped his life and left everything behind to go on a mission from God. Out in the wasteland, he meets the strangest man named Wick, who believes that he is God. Together they go on a mission across the world, not to make an impression so much as to leave a scar!

Korean artist Haemi Jang artwork on Clive Barker's the Next Testament
Bet that works out well...

The Next Testament has only recently been released by BOOM! Studios!

So, tell me what you think. Have you read any of these yet, and what were your impressions? Comments below and thank you for reading.
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