by Jim Harberson, MacKie Wildwood, Stephen Baskerville
I’m new to a lot of things the Horror Community has afforded me an opportunity to familiarize myself with. Two of those things are graphic novels and splatterpunk. The first graphic novel I have ever read, at the tender age of 31 years, was Stay Alive.
It’s a story about a fairly well-known actress best known for her campy slasher films. There are your regular horror tropes scattered throughout this novel, but…that’s the point. More on the plot in just a moment.
Splatterpunk, for those that aren’t familiar or don’t know the difference between extreme horror and splatterpunk, was best told to me by author Matt Hayward. Extreme horror is purposely meant to shock with graphic and brutal violence. Whereas (I am paraphrasing what Matt said) splatterpunk uses graphic and violent scenes as a tool for social commentary.
Back to the plot. Jane Morgan, our famous actress, gets an opportunity to host a show called Stay Alive. A show about her surviving ten nights amongst serial killers. At the same time, there is another show where people can use an app to vote for someone they wish dead. Anyone. Whoever is the most voted person (the #1), becomes the target until they are killed. And the people in charge of that app are very good at killing. Then the next #1 continues. Due to a less-than-humane act by Jane, she becomes the #1, surpassing the hatred for a pedophile by millions of voters.
Also at the same time, there is a serial killer not associated with Stay Alive–Kenyon Kraft—hunting down Jane. He’s your typical ex-lover-turned-stalker-turned-serial killer, determined to be with Jane. You know…nothing out of the ordinary here.
It gets real fun when everything comes together. It’s full of blood and guts and extreme violence, and its social commentary – on modern television, on how numb we are to violence, how mob mentality (whether for a good reason or not) is a horrible and addictive thing, and how much we socially encourage and absorb violence without batting an eye – could not be more blatant. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Some times stories are best served being transparent.
For a brand new reader of both graphic novels and splatterpunk, I found myself hungry for more. More from the creators, more from Markosia, the publishers, more from the genre and format. The other great thing about this particular story is it’s a complete story. I know there are plenty of series out there, which is fine, but for someone who was brand new and unfamiliar with this publisher and the creators, it was nice that I did not have to commit if I didn’t like the first story.
I give this graphic novel an A
Review by Patrick R. McDonough
I received a copy of this graphic novel for review consideration.