The creation of City of Lost Souls writer James McCulloch, The Grime is an assortment of short horror tales designed to make you squirm. Serial killers, cursed objects, eldritch powers, zombie survival and otherworldly forces all blight everyday people caught up in terrifying situations.
Some anthologies can be adversely affected by the hit and miss quality of their assembled stories, but those of The Grime are not only all well written and drawn but the differences between them allows them to complement each other. Some are hopelessly bleak while others are infused with a streak of grim humour, but each manages to induce a feeling of uneasiness in its own way, and despite some recurring themes, the diversity of the five tales avoids any kind of repetition and a couple of twist endings manage to pull you in and take you somewhere completely different from where you thought it was going.
The varying art style of each tale matches the story it brings to life, be it standard comic stylings, explosions of disorientating darkness, or simple sketches with heavy shading, all as sinister as the accompanying tale. Additionally, several pieces of full-page pin up art are scattered throughout the comic, each as surreal and disturbing as the stories they punctuate.
Horror might be something of a maligned genre these days due to the impersonal brutality by which it has become increasingly characterised, but these stories hark back to when horror was designed to play on the darker sided of people’s emotions. No matter how depraved or surreal the tales might be, each possesses a fundamental human element that a draws you into its brief narrative, which at its core is exactly what horror should do. In a genre that so often mistakes spite for edginess and replaces subtlety with sadism, it’s encouraging to be reminded that there are still creatives out there who understand what it was always supposed to have been.
This first issue of The Grime is more an experiment to see how readers react to it, but if the quality of the stories it publishes remains at this high standard then it should soon develop into a successful series.
THE GRIME #1 / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: INDEPENDENT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW