Sunday, April 20, 2014 01:30

Horror Book Reviews: Twitch (2011) & Gurlimann’s Bizarre Bazaar (2011)

Reading all these horror novels lately has been a huge investment.  Not just in my time, but it takes an emotional toll as well.  I’m being introduced to a lot of characters and getting to know them, watch them (hopefully) develop, and then most of them die!!  It really is taxing.  So to break it up I’ve been trying to read some horror comics and novellas between bigger, full-length novels.  Yesterday I read the novella TWITCH and a twisted little comic called GURLIMANN’S BIZARRE BAZAAR.

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TWITCH tells the story of T. Roberts McBaily (simply known as McB), the owner of a carnival who is buying his latest acquisition for his freak show; the oddity simply known as Twitch.  Twitch is a twisted and deformed little guy with a big white eye.  Twitch is as tragic a character as he is creepy and scary, and he may not be as innocent as everyone makes him out to be.  After a brief introduction of both Twitch and McB, we are then introduced to a handful of characters who go through McB’s freak show exhibit and see, among other oddities, Twitch.  Some are horrified while others are down right mean and cruel.  But those who’re cruel to Twitch often times find themselves the victim of bizarre and deadly accidents.  Are they indeed accidents, or is there some kind of supernatural force at work here?

TWITCH author Thomas Scopel

I really enjoy author Thomas Scopel’s writing style here.  It’s quick paced and very lyrical in some places.  He describes a lot with very few words and really hits his stride when he describes death scenes.  I really only had two problems with TWITCH (two problems, have you, that didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of the novella).  First was Scopel’s pattern of introducing characters, giving us a little background on them, and then killing them off … all within the same paragraph.  This gets a little redundant as this pattern happens with five characters in a row.  The problem is we really don’t get to make much of an emotional connection to any of the characters before they’re dispatched, and therefore its really not all that upsetting when they die.  But on the plus side we get a high body count in this 74 page novella!!

The other weakness with TWITCH was Twitch’s origin story.  After we get all the action and death that takes place at McB’s carnival, Scopel then switches gears and gives us where Twitch came from (which happens over 350 years ago, in the 1692’s).  It’s not a bad origin story, but the way it’s presented it completely halts the action of the novella up to that point.  It felt like we got two short novellas thrown together (Twitch’s origin and Twitch in the present day) and Scopel just combined the two to give us TWITCH.  These are minor critiques, and in no way prevented me from enjoying the story overall.  I think with some editing and reformatting, Scopel could easily convert TWITCH into a full-length novel and infuse the origin story within the body of the story.  He could also then give us some characters we really relate to and care for instead of just introducing them for the sole reason of killing them.

But check out TWITCH; its a really fun, quick read that will make you think twice before laughing at someone less fortunate than you!!

Author:  Thomas Scopel

Plot:  3 out of 5 stars

Gore:  2 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

The comic I read, GURLIMANN’S BIZARRE BAZAAR, is pretty hard to nail down.  Is it horror?  Kind of.  Is it a comic?  Sorta, but not in the traditional sense.  Is it entertaining?  Yeah, I think so … at least in the way where you can’t stop reading it.  GURLIMANN’S BIZARRE BAZAAR is more of an illustrated anthology where the titular character, Evelyn Gurlimann, is present in each segment either as the host (who introduces the story) or as an active participant in the story.  Gurlimann serves as a kind of harbinger of  bizarre things to come.  When ya see him you know things are gonna get weird.  Written and illustrated by John Dimes, Gurlimann gets into some odd situations like meeting his hero Magnificent Man and trying to get an out-of-court settlement for a guy with a led pipe sticking out of his head.

I really dig the illustrations and like how Dimes’ made Gurlimann both funny looking and rather frightening.  Some of the story threads are pretty bizarre (hence the title), but they are all really fun to read and look at.  Dimes even wrote to me telling me GURLIMANN’S BIZARRE BAZAAR would be for the “Edward Gorey [and] Charles Addams crowd” and he wasn’t kidding!!  Gorey did a lot of experimentation and was considered by critics to be an amazing surrealist artist, and he’s quoted in an interview with The Boston Globe that “Ideally, if anything [was] any good, it would be indescribable.”  Well this is apropos for GURLIMANN’S BIZARRE BAZAAR!!

If you’re a fan of the bizarre and enjoy darker stories and images then GURLIMANN’S BIZARRE BAZAAR will be up your alley.  I had fun reading through it, but just don’t expect a straight forward narrative.  Check it out.

My Summary:

Writer-Illustrator:  John Dimes

Plot:  2.5 out of 5 (for having a very choppy & confusing story)

Gore:  0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

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