Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't You Want to Spiral Into Horror?

I know I do, despite Halloween's being over. I'm thinking it's about time to revisit Ito Junji's nauseatingly good horror comic Uzumaki.

It begins with those simple words. They might lead you to expect some sort of nostalgia trip, a charmingly funny autobiographical tale of young love in a small, seaside town. But look closer. Now you begin to sense something ominous in the moody sky, a black lighthouse on a stark, rocky jetty. The girl's hair and skirt stir in a wind that must be unpleasantly cold, rather than refreshing, and we see only her back, alienating us rather than drawing us in the way an image of her face might. And the grass.

Look closely at the grass.

As I've written before, Uzumaki is the only comic I've read in years that actually scared me. And more than that, it left me feeling... well, disturbed is too strong a term... uneasy. It presents such a progression of horrors, each building on the last, I actually felt a growing dread with each story. Have you ever truly been frightened by something you've read? Horror comics-- even DC's relatively tame offerings in the 1970s-- used to keep me awake nights but years of hard living have put callouses on my imagination. I can read EC's best without flinching. Twisted Tales? Not a problem now. 30 Days of Night did nothing but disappoint me on almost every level, and while I enjoy The Walking Dead, it's more for the intense action and characterizations rather than its fright value.

But Uzumaki? Uzumaki brings back that easily creeped-out child I used to be.

I really wanted to do a Spookey Month entry on Uzumaki, but I haven't read it in several years and don't have it with me here in Japan. If I'd been smarter, I could've bought it back in September. But nope.

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