Dan Brereton’s Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts
Monster-loving painter Dan Brereton returns to his best-known spook-pulp series. All the usual Nocturnals — lycanthropic mad scientist Doc Horror, ghost-collecting teen Halloween Girl, mute zombie gunfighter Gunwitch, peaceful ghost Polychrome, synthetic pyrobug Firelion, amphibious hottie Starfish, bioengineered gangster Raccoon, and reptile hybrid Komodo — make at least a cameo appearance here.
We have a trio of stories here — in the first, Doc, Evie, and the Gunwitch go searching for new stores of the chemical that keeps Doc from turning werewolf, but instead they run into a bunch of mad scientists who’ve been experimenting on themselves and on a bunch of runaways. Our second story focuses on Starfish as she visits a sea monster to get rid of a ghost. And in the last, Halloween Girl, Polychrome, and Gunwitch have fun at a spooky Halloween carnival.
Verdict: Thumbs up. All the stories are about monsters, but it would be inaccurate to call this horror. It’s definitely pulp fiction, with a strong strain of slightly corny Halloween-loving spookiness. These are stories for grownups, but they’ll best be appreciated by grownups who love old pulp horror. And if you’ve got mature kids who love monsters, let them give it a read-through, too, especially the story set in the carnival.
Anyway, Brereton wrote all three stories, and his storytelling is first-rate. He also illustrated the first tale, and his painted artwork is predictably lush and awesome. The second story, illustrated by Victor Kalvachev, is also beautiful and atmospheric, and the last story, illustrated by Ruben Martinez and Viet Nguyen, is more cartoony, but it’s creepy and funny in all the right ways. My only regret about this is that it wasn’t released closer to October — it really is perfect Halloween reading.