Red Room – Fantagraphics Review
By: John C. Mayberry
And now boys and girls, for my first foray into the realm of the splatterpunk genre, I thought I’d give Red Room #1 a good read, dip my toes into the water as it were. Very, very red water at that. Albeit not something for everyone, and certainly not for kids of any age, fans of splatterpunk, horror, and grindhouse will be far from disappointed with the deliciously demented story put forth by the talents of Ed Piskor. I promise you sick little puppies it has everything you love to cringe at, just don’t let your parents find out you’ve read this or have it in your collection because they’re going to drag you to your nearest church…probably for an exorcism.
Piskor’s artistic style is one that is graphic and as twisted as you could imagine, being just detailed enough to emphasize, or even exaggerate the necessary details and features to illustrate something more akin to a horror show that would disturb many, while leaving the viewer unable to look away. Although, there may be some out there who might think too much focus is put into the violence and gore, which might affect other parts of the story, such as pacing issues. Red Room’s story is an entertaining read but appears to make a hasty connection between the two narratives presented.
Red Room #1 was an entertaining read, and something that will, whether in a good or sickeningly bad way, catch your attention, and quickly. For all of you out there who love the sick and twisted, you’re in for a disgusting treat that I can best describe as Tromaville in a comic book. And just like the most explicit of violent content, Red Room is not only a comic that’s sure to develop a cult following with legions of loyal fans, but one that pushes the envelope as far as possible, which is bound to inspire many creators out there who contribute to the lesser known splatterpunk genre of comics. Who knows? Maybe one day someone’s going to push it so far, a new genre that hasn’t existed before may come out, and you can bet I’ll be in line at my closest comic shop when that happens.
Artwork – Appropriately detailed and eye-catching. Really accentuates all the gore that has been the staple of its genre. Seeing the pages, you can just about feel, taste and smell what’s going on in there. Any piece of visual art that can bring that out in the viewer, there’s no denying the artist is very skilled at what they do.
Writing and dialogue – The character interactions are not only entertaining but revealing as well. With the characters communicating with each other you really get a glimpse of the person they are and what motivates them in their narrative. Whether pure or just completely screwed up on every wrong level you can think of, it’s interesting to see what makes them tick, or what it may push them to do…
Page composition – There’s enough content on every page to move the story along without being too busy or distracting. It’s also easy to follow with no chance of accidentally reading panels out of order, with Piskor utilizing his page space effectively to display the artwork without diminishing its quality.
Not for everyone – As mentioned earlier, this is, for sure, a comic book that is not going to be appealing to everyone. Fans of splatterpunk, horror, and grindhouse will undoubtedly love this, but it is a bit stomach-churning for the sensitive comic book fan. If you’re interested in reading Red Room, beware of extreme, gratuitous violence. Maybe have a barf bag ready just in case.
Story pacing – The way this issue is written does seem to speed up the story’s pace in a way that could make it seem, to some readers at least, that it was either hastily written, or that too much focus may have been placed on other areas. The two seemingly separate narratives are part of the same story for the first issue, with no division in sections or chapters. When the reader sees the connection, it feels abrupt, losing potential to be even better.
OVERALL SCORE – 8 out of 10
If this is your kind of story, and if you can make it through the gore and depravity, you’re going to dig this hard. Just think of everything you love about the most brutal horror movies you’ve ever seen, put in comic book form, and you have Red Room. Full of flesh-rending goodness, this is something I’m likely going to read again, along with any follow up issues I can get my chunky little sausage fingers on. To all my fellow sickos out there, I highly recommend this, so go out, get a copy, and enjoy. But again, keep a waste basket ready. And for gosh sakes remember to put a bag in it this time!