IDW Publishing 2017
Written by Ted Adams
Illustrated by Santiperez
Coloured by Jay Fotos
Lettered & Edited by Robbie Robbins
I love what Ted is doing here pure and simple. Diablo House nails the old school feel and sensibility of the old horror titles that permeated the market from EC, Marvel and DC and various other small press outlets. The power of storytelling with stylised visuals to create a cautionary tale filled with those subtle lessons about greed and excess that people take for granted in this day and age is something that’s been sorely missed.
A good horror anthology style series, well in that each issue is a one and done story all set in the same vein, that introduces us to Riley who isn’t what you’d expect in a host is a stroke of genius. While I am not a fan of the long hair he’s a California Surfer Dude through and through and his breezy effortless way of guiding the reader through the story is probably among the best things Ted has created here. His incredible body, that gorgeous tattoo and that not so good looking face combine to really establish him as the creepy host for a new generation.
So a lot of my love for this comes also from Santiperez and Jay. The visuals here are absolutely award winning stunning in their scope and realised vision. From the work Santiperez lays down and how Jay finishes them so that it manages to blend that old school black and white horror yet in full colour so that it’s both retro and modern at the same time should be impossible to pull off. Yet here we are looking at it so we know it’s real. The creativity and imagination on display boggles the mind and the architecture here is something I could focus on and look for those little hidden Easter eggs all day long. The flow of what we see is gorgeous and tone, mood and feel that it exudes makes this far more effective than if it were just the words alone. The synergy between the two is impeccable.
Oh my gosh the seventies take centre stage here with a lead character who desperately wants to be liked. This leads to a series of bad decisions as we see him spiral out of control. I like it, it has all these elements of the era in California including Ronald Reagan as the Governor and his stance in politics and what he sees as right and wrong. There are too many moments in this story to fully appreciate and adore but among them is the whole Saturday Night Fever look. It’s almost astonishing to me that one single issue can hold so many moments that have that WOW factor which come hot on each others heels. You can feel the passion and dedication Ted has for this book and it’s not only palpable but it’s infectious so that you as a reader feel it as well.
Lex is a loser at his core, a hopeless geek who doesn’t know who to listen to or get advice from and this leaves him incredibly susceptible to outside influences, such as the Diablo House. Which he does visit and afterwards his life seems to be irrevocably changed. There is also a huge disparity between the artwork that opens this book to Lex and his life that we see. It’s not a bad thing either because in all honesty it feels like something we’d see in Playboy or any other “adult” magazine that had their cartoon strips in the Seventies. It absolutely without a doubt encompasses what we feel like the seventies represented.
So i’ve mentioned greed and excess earlier and we see that in full force in this story. Once Lex becomes a new person and forgetting the boy he was and how he felt he comes across feeling corrupted to me. it’s mesmerising to see the level of characterisation on display here and how the change is so dramatic, interesting and powerful. Here’s this completely nebbishy little guy who in no way shape or form do you want to root for and yet here I sit completely transfixed by him. There are moments when you just want to smack him upside the head and wash your hands of him because of his actions and yet Ted manages to keep riveted to the page.
People even if you aren’t a “horror” fan you need to be reading this. It has that psychological edginess to it that engages the mind and imagination while finding a way to creep you out. This isn’t the modern horror book it’s a throwback to a time when horror meant more a feeling and attitude than the modern slasher idea of it. You will not be disappointed in this in the slightest as it has elements of humour blended with psychological horror that you won’t be able to forget.