The anthology-styled form of storytelling has been pretty popular as of late in film, television, and in more recent times, comics! The paneled page is one of the best places to explore an eclectic set of tales and stories that are set within the confines of a common theme. It’s an empty canvas with much space to paint your (and others) masterpiece, and recently, the indie comics community has deemed it a place to show off not only the work they’ve done themselves but the fantastic visuals and narratives of their friends and peers. Whether you flip through the pages of something like A Cold, Dark Universe, a sci-fi story anthology with stories largely by unknown creatives, or Producing The End Of The World, an anthology exploring tales set in post-apocalyptic settings. We’ve now been gifted a wicked wintry wonderland approaching with Grant Stoye (Sidequest) and an incredible team of collaborators crafting a line of stories about the horrors hidden within the layers of frost that blanket the world in Yule: Dreadful Tales For The Holiday Season!
The book opens with a story from Frankee White (20 Fists) and Fell Hound (Commander Rao) called The Deadly Cold featuring a set of mimicking goblins that lure people to their doom. This opening story really does set the stage for the future terror tales within the next seventy-eight pages, a series of stories using cultural winter-themed folklore as a focal point for horrific Hell. Some of these are more whimsical than others like Kacey Flynn (A Cold, Dark Universe) and J Schiek (Two Swords Til’ Mercy) An Advent Of Elves, featuring the Elf On The Shelf as the signature horror element, It’s a rhyme-saturated four pages fantasizing the titular false friend as a fixture of fright. These fun and bouncy narratives are juxtaposed against other stories within the book that are focused on really amplifying the folklore tenfold like Jarred Lujan’s (Dry Foot) What Is Owed, a vibrant colonizer-despising horror set during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire featuring Huītzilōpōchtli, the Aztec god of war. The book is not only a clear showcase of indie talent, but a limelight for lesser-known mythology and folklore that is both creative and easily consumable.
Grant Stoye and every creative team involved with this anthology and the subjects of shock that lay within should applaud themselves and grant as many pats on the back to themselves as they can possibly muster. This horror anthology is distinctive from others. If there is a common theme it usually feels that most of the narratives within kind of mush together and feel very similar to one another. But, with the use of spotlighting folklore and retrofitting them into horror genre-fare we as an audience are fed unique narratives, given a greater cultural understanding of lore once unknown, and crimson-drenched stories that are enough to satisfy the needs of the greatest horror fan. It’s a strong effort from all parties involved, especially considering that not only is this the first anthology that Grant Stoye has ever curated but for some this is the first piece of horror work they’ve ever put into the world.
All-in-all if you’re looking for a unique horror anthology with a diverse stable of writers and artists who are kicking ass at every turn, then this book is for you. We’re given a celebration of world culture and fed horror stories that feel really distinctive cast across the backdrop of wintertime festivities. These writers and artists have a clear handle on character, narrative, and style that ultimately this book just feels like a nice cup of hot chocolate for the darkest chasms of your mind and soul. An easy recommend to anyone with a love for horror, world mythologies, indie comics, and grisly murders around Christmas time!
Y’know it’s funny, they say that horror is one of the toughest genres to convey in the comic book medium, but the Yule crew just made it look so damn easy!
If you’d like to read more from Gabe Gonzalez, you can find his work here!