Pullbox Indie Spotlight on Amiculus Books- Excellent horror one-shots for the discerning reader

Wandering the aisles of Artist Alley at C2E2 just a few months ago, I ran across the very enthusiastic Travis Horseman (no relation to BoJack). He was more than happy to tell me all about his love of writing horror comics steeped in historical fact, & I wound up grabbing a couple of his books, two of which I’ve read and loved.

What really stands out in Travis’s work is that he’s very much aware of the limitations involved in writing horror one-shot comics. With that challenge in mind, he dives in and leaves no wasted space on the page. Travis’s work is direct, to the point, and he’s able to establish interesting if not always likable characters in a very short amount of time.

In the following two comics I’m spotlighting for you, Travis’s cohort is Brent Bowman. His artwork is perfectly suited to the short stories Travis is telling, leaving as much on the page as he could fit. Working in the horror genre, Brent’s able to work with the script to build tension without the benefit of a musical score or the built-in pacing that comes with movies.

In A.D. 117, the Roman Empire is at the height of its power. Emperor Trajan has pushed its borders to their furthest extent with his recent conquest of the kingdom of Dacia, in what is now modern-day Romania.

What the Romans do not know is that this conquest has come at a terrible price. People across the new province begin to disappear, with villages, towns and entire cohorts of Roman troops vanishing into a dense, shroud-like fog that smothers the land.

Veteran cavalryman Tiberius Claudius Maximus has been sent by the new emperor Hadrian to assess any threat to the province. What he discovers is a force of evil entirely new to the world being born in the Dacian mists. If the Romans cannot correct their mistake and defeat this evil, it will wash across the empire and all of humanity, bringing with it an age of eternal night.

In Noctem hits hard, digs in deep & wastes no time latching onto the jugular as the Roman Empire meets its match. I’ve been interested in the legends and rumors behind the Lost Legion, so Travis Horseman’s choice to set this story during Hadrian’s rule was a win for me. Travis and Brent squeeze every drop of tension onto the page, as the Roman Legions face an enemy that doesn’t care about their fabled military might.

At first glance, the village of Sugar Creek, Ohio is little more than a “wide-spot-in-the-road,” no different from any number of small towns dotting the Midwest. Yet the land on which it sits contains a dark history far older than the village itself, filled with slaughter and bloodshed, that has nurtured a monstrous horror beneath its placid surface. As the town prepares celebrations for its 200th anniversary, this horror threatens to burst forth into the light of day.

With Sugar Creek, Travis & Brent are mining a different concept for full effect. The concept is on how great violence and suffering can create a spirit in the land on which blood is spilled, and how that spirit might react to anyone presuming to claim that land as theirs. I thought this was an outstanding story, full of mounting dread on a Lovecraftian scale. And again, I was mightily impressed with Travis’s ability to craft characters who give every indication of having lived lives outside of the 38 page comic to which they’re bound.

There’s more to the Amiculus Books library, for which I’m very happy. I do look forward to digging into more of these stories, to see if things keep going as they have in these two relatively short samples. Fans of horror stories, one-shots, & historical fiction, I encourage you to take a look at these outstanding examples.

Final Score: 11/13

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