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Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Writer: John Ward Art: Juan Romera Publisher: Self-published

Scratcher, issue #3, cover, Self-published, Ward/Romera

Like a lot of the indie comics I review, this will only cover the first three issues, and not the trade paperback length I typically review. Because of that, we don't get insight into the greater story arc, so details may be fewer and the story may be more difficult to judge.


A spin on the zombie/mysterious disease sub-genre of horror.

It's the still-somewhat-human, rage zombies from Resident Evil 4 mixed with the starts-small-and-quickly-spirals-into-something-much-larger, grounded-in-traditional-horror elements of Cabin Fever.


(Minor Spoilers)

A tattoo artist, Dee, finds out the hard way that the tattoos she's given people start to move on their own, controlling their hosts in evil, violent ways.

Unsure of what's happening or how to undo it, Dee sets off to make it right...or at least to control the damage in some way.

Throughout her journey, she saves friends she tattooed in the past who are possessed now, and they join or otherwise help her decipher this mystery. We also get some backstory, interspersed throughout, to add some context to Dee's relationships.

ISSUE #3 follows Dee to a sorority house, where all the women there are possessed and violent. She must search for the secret to cure them, which may help her cure the others and get one step closer to solving the mystery of what's happening. If she doesn't lose her mind -- or her life -- in the process.


  • If you're into bloody, gory, melodramatic horror this is the book for you

  • It's good, classic horror fun with just the right amount of twists and turns

  • Feels influenced by the '90s era of horror, dark and gritty, like it should have a grunge-metal soundtrack

  • So much of horror these days is just coming up with a new idea; while the sub-genre isn't new, the concept of "evil tattoos" is, and it's cool as hell to see how that plays out

  • Pretty steady action throughout, which creates a really fun experience and keeps the pages turning

  • The art and shading conveys enough that you don't really miss the color, and without it, it actually feels even darker


  • It plays out about how you would expect...but isn't that part of the fun of horror?

  • Early on, the positioning of the characters feels very staged, stiff and unrealistic -- it pulls you out of the action (hard to show examples of this, however, without showing spoilers, but this gets a lot better in later issues)

  • Shading/inking could also get a little more detailed -- often, to show where cheek bones are, we just get a diagonal line that make Dee look like Apocalypse (of X-Men fame)

  • The way the art is laid out over the panels lost me in the action a couple times, making me wonder what was happening (this also gets a lot better in later issues)

  • It may feel like a soft pitch for a feature film or a TV show, but it's definitely one I'd watch!

Scratcher, issue #1, page 7, Self-published, Ward/Romera


If you like horror, want to see a really cool, cinematic idea and like supporting indie creators, this is a good option for you.


If you like the writing:

  • Bone Parish #1 by Cullen Bunn & Alex Guimaraes

  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore

  • Gideon Falls, Vol. 1 by by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino & Dave Stewart

If you like the art:

  • Los Muertos by Moonlight by Fabian Rangel, Jr. & Juan Romera

  • Vengeance, Nevada #1 by B. J. Mendelson & Piotr Czaplarski

  • Outcast by Robert Kirkman & Paul Azaceta


John Ward – Writer

  • Multitalented: Also writes for TV and film

  • Actually has a Ph.D in String Theory!

  • Music Lover: Is a big fan of punk rock

Juan Romera – Illustrator

  • Outlander: Hails from Argentina

  • Was into comics before even learning how to read

  • Multitalented: Works as a penciller, inker and a colorist

Eric Grissom – Letterer

  • Multitalented: Also writes comics

  • Hosts a classic Doctor Who podcast, The Old Doctor Who Show


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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.

All John Ward & Juan Romera characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright John Ward & Juan Romera or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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