06th Jan2021

‘Early Haunts’ Graphic Novel Review

by Alain Elliott

Written by T.W. Burgess | Art by Mike O’ Brien, Brian Coldrick, Brianne Neuman, David Romero

Author T.W. Burgess has a reputation for creating brilliantly scary graphic novels and I have loved his previous work. Malevolents, The Eyrie, and Hallows Fell have all been super creepy in a way no other graphic novels I have read can match up to. So I couldn’t wait to read his latest works, Early Haunts.

Early Haunts is an anthology of sorts with four ghostly tales, adapted from the original folk tales that have influenced major and well-known works, and then made into a graphic novel. It’s a fantastic idea and one I thought would have been made before but this seems to be the first of its kind that I know of.

Th first story is ‘The Greek Myth’ – The House In Athens. Which features the first-ever chained apparition and is a major influence on A Christmas Carol. Perhaps the least scary of the four but still nicely put together. The story is simple and the minimalistic art style works well with that. Most importantly, the ghost itself is by far the scariest looking part of the story.

Tale number two is The Death Bride, one of the main literary influences for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A much more detailed love story is shown here, one which engages the reader from the very beginning and lets the horror slowly creep up on you. The artwork shows a great use of colour, especially red and there are some great bigger pieces including a fantastic last page of a haunted but electrifying house, which would make a great poster for any horror fan’s wall.

The third story is The Wild Huntsman, one of many stories thought to have influenced Sleepy Hollow. There’s a strange Disney-like quality to both the art and the writing in this one but it is definitely no kids story. The folklore of a cursed rider is in poem form and forces you to read almost song-like. It’s a fascinating read with a clear villain to dislike. The artwork really comes to life in the final few pages and when it does it is at its most scary and horrific.

Finally, is The Tale of Dish Mansion. An odd-sounding title that is one of the forty-eight versions of the Japanese folk tale featuring the ghostly Okiku which is a clear influence on the classic J-horror The Ring. Fans of The Ring will feel very at home here and the artwork clearly works alongside its Asian influence but still including plenty of originality. A story about a broken dish shouldn’t be scary but the scares build-up right until the final moments.

Early Haunts is a great idea, expertly achieved, and proves yet again that T.W. Burgess is an accomplished author of fantastically creepy ghost stories. This sits alongside his other work to create a scary collection of graphic novels that horror fans need to check out if they haven’t already.

**** 4/5

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