Doom! Doom Upon Ye! The world is ending and . . . is that a giant lobster demon?!
The Scary Book is a story where our heroes must unravel a shadowed mystery involving the dark powers of the occult. Unlike titles with similar subject matter, this story isn’t highlighted by abstract terror and gore, but instead by hilarity. Each issue is packed full of jokes, and references delivered in a consistently impactful tone. This four-issue series is a must-read for fans of dark comedies.
The story starts with Marty Applegate, owner of Applegate books, receiving a delivery of strange books he didn’t order. Even after getting his order fixed by swapping with the intended recipient of the strange tomes, one escapes their scrutiny and finds itself on Marty’s shelves. While Marty isn’t looking, a man named Caduceus purchases the book from the clerk. Shortly after that, pandemonium breaks out.
As it turns out, that book was actually a book of spells penned by the devil himself, Lou C. Fer. He puts out a new batch of books on occasion so that advanced conjurers can give his demons work on Earth. Turns out Hell is even tiresome for the Demons, which is probably why they got a union organizer. The problem is that this book began making the rounds. All the major demons have been summoned out of hell and there is no one left to torture all the damned souls. Lou needs his demons back and in order to do that, he’ll need Marty to track down who bought the book and stop it from circulating.
In issue 2, we meet Marty’s cadre of book hunters as they travel through a world being torn apart as mass conjurings and spells are unleashed by even the most inept of magical practitioners. The first is Crimson, a cursed soul sent by Lou C. Fer to make Marty aware of his quest and assist him in completing it. Crimson sold her soul for beauty and has been stuck in hell to suffer the punishment for vanity ever since. The chance to work back on Earth finally gives her the opportunity to fully use the boon she received in her pact. The two of them enlist the help of Phillip Chandler, a private eye whose career earned him several films made about him starring himself. Phil proves to be an interesting addition to the team as he is mentally stuck in his role. He speaks as if he is providing narration and dialogue in a voice-over session. The trio follows the first clue to a cult performing a conjuration.
That encounter sets them on the right trail. They trace the book back through all the hands that have held it since it was initially purchased. On the way, they encounter a whole slew of fascinating characters, unsavory beasts, and what street prophets believe to be the end of the world. Eventually, they get their confrontation with the book’s holder and things only get stranger from there.
What really sets The Scary Book apart from other mysteries is the tone and voice in which the story is delivered. Even when compared to other comedies nothing really comes across as wholly unique but expected as The Scary Book. It sits in the intersection of three genres, comedy, mystery, horror, and behaves the way you’d expect a story in any one of those genres to behave but because it does all three so flawlessly, it is entirely its own story. It is somehow both paying homage to great assets each of these genres can employ at the same time as being irreverent to all the tropes that can make those same genres cheesy and silly.
Writer Sidney Williams’s voice really comes across through the three main characters he employs. Marty delivers a classic dry wit that serves to give the perspective of the average person caught up in world ending nonsense. Pair that with Crimson who has experience with both mundane and the demonic and is just tired with it all. The color commentary and banter provided by these two immediately sells the reader on the intended atmosphere and gets them invested in the characters as people. Then there is Phillip Chandler who is a world unto himself. Not only does he only talk through first-person narration as if he were the voice-over of a hard-boiled detective movie, but he brings the same style of Hollywood flair to solving the team’s problems. While this is “the real world” for Marty and Crimson, this is just another shot for Phillip, so of course he attempts to handle every situation as over-the-top and high-octane as possible.
With characters as loveable and strange as these, it’s no wonder that this universe is being expanded in the near future. Writer Sidney Williams has written a spinoff called Something Big! This story will follow Phillip Chandler and a new host of characters as they tackle a brand new case brought to Phil’s desk. This will, of course, be brought to you by Silverline Comics.
The Scary Book was written by accomplished novelist Sidney Williams, whose recent releases include Dark Hours and Disciples of the Serpent. Sidney has also written comics such as The Mantus Files, Marauder, and Sirens.
Issues 1 through 3 of The Scary Book were inked by Dan Schaefer who Silverline adepts would recognize from The Mantus Files and Cat & Mouse. Dan has also inked for The Green Hornet, New 52, and Predator.
Nick McCalip lettered issue 1 and pages 1 through 9 of issue 2. Nick has also lettered for The Mantus Files, Cat & Mouse, and Krey.
Debbie Woods lettered pages 10 through 24 of issue 2
Brad Thomte letters issue 3. Brad also lettered Switchblade, Marauder, Silverstrom, Pantheon, and Mouseguard: Tales of The Guard.
Mike Belcher lettered issue 4. Mike is perhaps most well known for creating his own title Man in The Mask for AMK Comics.