What was your childhood nightmare?
When I was a little kid, my parents would occasionally have my brother and me stay the night at my grandparent’s house. They had a bizarre home that I struggle to this day to explain to people. From the outside it looked like a small little ranch in a normal neighbourhood, but once you walked inside you could quickly get lost in a series of twists and turns that seemed to defy the laws of time and space. Narrow hallways led to tiny rooms, through with single doorways took you to entire hallways of bizarre rooms we were not allowed to go into.
Grandpa was an avid hunter, so deer heads and horns lined the walls of various rooms, and the eyes of those animals followed you everywhere.
And then there was the basement. Just as confusing as the upstairs, the basement was basically a second house, with a kitchen, workshop, hidden passages behind the kitchen, and just generally an overall disruptive vibe that always put me slightly on edge.
Don’t get me wrong, my grandparents were lovely folks who only ever showed me love and kindness, but their house was most likely a TARDIS and to this day I refuse to believe otherwise.
Once, when I was over there, I was playing in the basement, and I was told not to go into a back room because my uncle’s home had flooded and all of his stuff was being stored in the basement. I, being a clever young lad, got around this rule by climbing up on the back of a chair and looking into the room over the barrier they had erected, at which point I saw the face of the Devil himself staring back at me.
I ran screaming from the basement and dragged my annoyed mother to the room with me, screaming about a demon in the basement. Turns out it was a cheap Halloween mask, but my agitated state refused to let me calm down, and for years after, whenever we would have to spend the night at my grandparents, I would have terrible nightmares about a slender demon with pointed feet and hands chasing my through their home.
I’m sharing this little bit of childhood trauma because this week I am looking at The Boogeyman #1 from ABLAZE Publishing, a book about a childhood nightmare come to life in the vein of Something Is Killing The Children and Hellboy. It’s a wonderful first issue that does a great job of setting up its own, unique mythology, while also paying loving homage to familiar trope from the horror genre.
So let’s dive into The Boogeyman #1 and see if this book can unlock some childhood trauma for you as well!
Here’s the blurb: THE BOOGYMAN #1
WRITER: MATHIEU SALVIA
Monsters don’t only exist in children’s imaginations… Passionate about reading, Elliott has always been drawn to the stories of boogymen, those monstrous creatures which, at night, hide in the shadows or under the bed to frighten little children. He can’t imagine how much they will change his life… Witnessing the bloody murder of his parents, he will discover that boogymen do indeed exist, and very precise codes govern their existence. When one of the most powerful boogymen, “Father-Death,” decides to protect him, Elliott ﬁnds himself plunged into a terrible conﬂict at the heart of a universe as terrifying as it is fascinating. On a dark, stormy night, Elliott’s destiny will be fulﬁlled…Mathieu Salvia and Djet reinvent a whole mythology of childhood in a tender horror story and an initiatory journey of mourning and the acceptance of fear.
There’s something so wonderful about a creative team that trusts it’s readers to figure things out as they go. I can’t tell you home many times I have read titles from indie publishers where the team is so worried people won’t understand everything happening that they overexplain and ruin the entire story because they’re scared if they don’t people will not stick with the book.
The Boogeyman #1 allows the story to unfold naturally. There are twists and turns that are not explained, but you don’t need them to, because you’re just starting to glimpse the larger mythology of this universe, and that is so refreshing. I made the comparison to Something Is Killing The Children and Hellboy earlier and this is a big part of that similarity. All three of these books allow the story to develop on it’s own, and the promise is that if you stick with it, all your questions that need answering will be answered.
Our story opens to find Elliot, our lead, in a police station. He’s just witnessed the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of a lunatic, and despite the police’s best efforts in trying to get him to share details about what he saw, Elliot constant refuses to say anything, instead insisting he knows nothing.
We flash back to that evening, where Elliot is being admonished by his father for staying up late, reading books about The Boogeyman. Elliot insists to his father that they have such a creature in the house, but his father refuses to listen to him. It’s not that he doesn’t love his child; it’s that this is a common refrain he has apparently heard for a while. He blames this on the books his son is reading, and tells him to just go to sleep.
Soon after, all hell breaks loose, as a killer attacks the home, egged on by a mysterious witch like creature pushing him to kill. Elliot discovers the carnage, but before he too can be attacked, The Boogeyman acts to save him, a move that confuses Elliot and the witch woman, who herself was shocked to find another evil spirit already in the home.
Something is going on here. Why is Father Death protecting Elliot? Who are these mysterious ghosts feeding off the evil in the house? What is the history these characters seem to have with each other? They’re good questions, solidly set up, and definitely interesting enough to continue to follow.
It’s a great first issue, and the art by DJET is top notch. It’s a clean and creepy style that does an excellent job of portraying the fear, horror, and madness the characters are experiencing, and I am very excited to see where this story goes.
Halloween is approaching quickly! If you’re looking for a great new creepy read to keep you up at night, check out The Boogeyman from ABLAZE Publishing, and see if any of your childhood fears come back to haunt you tonight!
Until next time, stay safe!