As far as modern horror comics go, Hellbound Media’s one-shot The Disease is one of the best you’ll come across.
Plot-wise, The Disease centres on poor Gus Harper. On the opening page, we’re greeted with a stained toilet bowl and the words “I’m shitting blood again this morning – the third time this week.” And with that, you know that Gus is in for a rough ride. What you don’t know, however, is just how rough that ride will get.
To elaborate too much on the plot would be to ruin the twisted tale that you have in front of you with The Disease. What we have here, though, is a story that will have you retching and wincing throughout… and in the best way possible. You see, Gus may at one early moment show how everything is good with life – after all, within the first pages he’s making passionate love to his girlfriend, Rachel – but it takes a mere minimal amount of panels for things to go wrong.
For hapless Gus, he finds himself suddenly becoming overcome by some sort of illness, some sort of sickness, some sort of ailment, some sort of… disease. With skin bubbling like an overcooked lasagne, Gus is in a bad way, and even worse, the doctors have zero clue on what’s wrong with the fella.
As Gus begins some bizarre journey into sane madness – yes, he’s going mad, but he totally knows it – what we’re given is an engaging, rich, stomach-churning read that plays out like a lost Creepshow segment directed by David Cronenberg.
Paul Kane’s writing is delicate-yet-ever-expanding, and Pawel Kardis’ art brings a genuine feel of uneasiness to this indie publishing, giving readers an end product that's something majestic but ultimately disturbing. For those who grew up in the age of horror shorts, be it on the page or on the screen, The Disease is something that will strike a chord and make you remember what was great about the short story format, whilst for those new to the field it will make you recognise how gut-twistingly appealing such tales can be.
THE DISEASE / WRITER: PAUL KANE / ARTIST: PAWEL KARDIS / EDITOR: MARK ADAMS, MATT WARNER / PUBLISHER: HELLBOUND MEDIA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW