Writers: Tom Peyer/Robert Jeschonek
Illustrators: Alan Robinson/Greg Scott
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
AHOY's latest iteration of their humor-riddled horror anthology wraps up for a while with Tom Peyer's twisted re-telling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" and Robert Jeschonek's frightening anecdote about literary rivals.
It's less scary than Hammer House of Horror, and on par with the comedy in the Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror."
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The first chilling tale in the anthology features a mob boss and a crime-destroyer in Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson's "Edgar Allan Poe's Mask of the Red Death." Instead of trying to avoid a lethal plague from Poe's original short story, "The Masque of the Red Death," mob boss Vito Prospero attempts to dodge an elusive enemy named "The Red Death." Prospero ignores the threat, because he thinks himself untouchable from death, after all. Who is the man behind the Mask? Will Prospero meet his fate?
In Robert Jeschonek and Greg Scott's subsequent story, "Bon Bon," harsh literary critic Rufus Wilmot Grimwold faces judgment from none other than the Devil himself! The Devil regales Rufus with a tale about a party he is throwing for a renowned author in Hell. The unnamed author (who else could it be but Poe?) has requested Rufus, his despicable rival, as the main dinner course. Will Rufus defend his reputation – and lie about his long life of literary judgment – even to the Devil?
Tom Peyer is a master of allegory, and his "Mask of the Red Death" reimagining adds layers of thematic – and comedic drama – to the Poe-inspired story.
Alan Robinson's usage of black-and-white greyscale for illustrations proves that color is not a caveat to Robinson's artistic talents. The colorless artwork in "Mask of the Red Death" distills the irony of the first and final pages without sacrificing rich facial expressions or shadowy detail.
In "Bon Bon," writer Robert Jeschonek alters one of Poe's lesser-known short stories, "Bon-Bon," to satirize the relationship between critic Rufus W. Grimwold and the drunken Snifter storyteller, Edgar Allan Poe. Thus, Jeschonek wittily flips Poe's narrative to poke fun at a real-life Poe critic to describe Rufus's fictional encounter with the Devil.
Greg Scott's art in "Bon Bon" is both fashionably gothic and horrifying to the core. Scenes in Hell are grotesque, as Scott's hard brush strokes vary in width, presenting the fire and torture with a terrifying scratchy effect.
Andy Troy performs some dauntless coloring in "Bon Bon." Troy relies on rich pastel tones to illustrate the 1857 New York City world and washing Hell with seedy orange gradients.
Rob Steen always shines as the letterer in every AHOY comic. Specifically, Steen's lettering for the Devil character in "Bon Bon" almost always appears in exaggerated italics, yet the thickened edges and curved letters emulate Scott's Hell flame shape.
Truly, Peyer's portrayal of Prospero in "Mask of the Red Death" could not be more topical. A masked crusader named Red Death continues to kill off powerful elitists, yet they pretend otherwise. Peyer's veneered dialogue speaks the truth of current events with his signature humor.
Robinson's art in "Mask" showcases how much of an asset he is to AHOY. Mob boss Prospero refuses to accept the inevitability of death and thinks himself untouchable. Robinson proves himself a maverick of conveying both the grand and minute themes of Peyer's story through ridiculously expressive facial visuals.
While Jeschonek's "Bon Bon" retelling initially harbors more malevolence than previous Snifter titles, the flashback transition seamlessly adapts to the humorously sinister spirit of Snifter. Jeschonek hit every mark with this inventive adaptation.
You can tell Greg Scott and Andy Troy had way too much fun with the Devil's character design in "Bon Bon." From the fiery hair, to the oversized top hat, to the matching purple outfit pieces, this has got to be the most hilarious interpretation of the Devil since Bedazzled.
This issue has a twist that may affect future Snifter titles. I did not see this coming, and this being the final issue for a bit makes the shock ending unwarranted! Except that's exactly why I'll be anxiously awaiting more Poe, so the AHOY team knows what they're doing.
AHOY prose and poetry pieces in this sixth issue are not simply cosmetic: They are necessary reads! The three pieces in this Snifter issue all enormously resonate.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This issue is actually much more gruesome than the Snifter titles have been in a while. Particularly, Jeschonek's "Bon Bon" features some brutal torture in Hell and the Devil himself that may lead readers shuddering in fear at the imagery of eternity's fiery despot.
Depictions of the Devil and Hell may also appear sacrilegious to more religiously-minded individuals.
Snifter of Blood is a satirical horror work with comedy that may not strike a chord with readers who lean toward other comic book genres.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If ever there were a time for satirical horror, the time is now. The world around us feels – frankly – awful most days, so why not laugh at the hilarious satire of our ubiquitously un-funny present in Edgar Allan Poe's Snifter of Blood #6?
Tom Peyer is AHOY's chief editor and a veteran in the comic industry, so anytime you see his name, you know you're in for some delightful reading. Although, how dare he [spoiler] [redacted] at the end of "Mask of the Red Death"?!
Anyway, the splendid artistic teams and the genius writers in this issue illuminate the immense spectrum of talent coming from AHOY each month. If you need to laugh at an insolent, rich mob boss's demise or thank heavens that you're not the one being tortured in Hell, pick up a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Snifter of Blood #6.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Hashtag Danger by Tom Peyer, Randy Elliott, & Chris Giarrusso
The Wrong Earth by Tom Peyer & Jamal Igle
Justice Society of America: 80-Page Giant 2010 #1 by Robert Jeschonek, Jason Starr, Nunzio Defilippis, Freddie E Williams II, Christina Weir, Marc Andreyko, Brandon Jerwa, Justin Roy Peniston
If you like the art:
Planet of the Nerds by Paul Constant & Alan Robinson
Penultiman by Tom Peyer & Alan Robinson
High Heaven by Tom Peyer & Greg Scott
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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