Are you one of those people who’s miffed at the reshuffling that Vertigo is undergoing? Mad about Hellblazer going mainstream? I might have something for you. You remember Mike Carey? He had a long run on Hellblazer, might be better known for Lucifer (personally, I always had a soft spot for My Faith In Frankie) and also had a long run on X-Men Legacy over at Marvel. Carey’s currently working on a horror comic you probably haven’t heard of.
Houses of the Holy is a “motion book” over at MadeFire. OK, you’re thinking that means motion comic. It doesn’t. It’s a slightly more automated version of the sort of thing Mark Waid’s been doing over at Thrillbent. You click through a progression of panels. Word balloons appear, you’ll occasionally have a bit of movement (usually involving an action sequence). There’s background music and the odd sound effects. The clicking to advance establishes a little more pacing, but you’re still the one reading the comics. It’s an enhanced comic without going down the path of motion comics. And yes, the primary delivery vehicle for this is still iOS. Unfortunately,if you don’t have an Apple device, you’re out of luck.
The premise of Houses of the Holy is one straight out of Vertigo. There are three main characters. A Nazi propaganda official. An aging basilisk who has turned into stone, and more specifically turned into a sentient house. A Romani (gypsy) child vampire with a brain tumor that continues to grow — and wipe out more of her memory — if she gets hungry.
They’re in 1930s Berlin and while the propagandist hasn’t appeared yet, well… Nazis liked sending the Romani to concentration camps.
Houses of the Holy is three episodes (a prologue and two chapters) in. These episodes don’t necessarily directly map to a page count, given the motion elements, but call them roughly 8 page sections and the story is approximately one print issue so far.
The thing that’s really standing out 3 episodes in is the atmosphere, which is a bit more important in the horror genre. This comic is just plain creepy. Artist Dave Kendall does a good job of keeping things mundane, but ominous, before springing the actual terrors. The sound effects, music, buzzing flies and… other noises also add to the mood quite nicely.
Early on, the stage is still being set and we’re learning how the little girl came to be a vampire and seeing how she and her basilisk companion feed. It’s a little early in the story to know where its going, but I get the impression its going to be a character piece about monsters as told in short chapters with a bit of slow burn.
I’m quite happy with it and if you’re into the old Vertigo style of horror, this is probably right up your alley. If you have an iOS device, it’s free, so you can’t fault the price.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.