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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Dark Horse Berger Books: Hungry Ghosts #1


Kitchen Nightmares!

Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose
Alberto Ponticelli, Vanesa Del Rey
Jose Villarrubia
Cover Artist:Paul Pope

Here is the "Company chat" about the book.

On a dark, haunted night, a Russian oligarch dares a circle of international chefs to play the samurai game of 100 Candles--where each storyteller spins a terrifying tale of ghosts, demons and unspeakable beings--and prays to survive the challenge. 
Inspired by the Japanese Edo period game of Hyakumonogatari KaidankaiHungry Ghosts reimagines the classic stories of yokai, yorei, and obake, all tainted with the common thread of food.
First course: With bad consequence, a ramen chef refuses to help a beggar, and a band of pirates get more (and less) than they were bargaining for after their encounter with a drowning woman turns ghastly.
Hungry Ghosts is cooked up by the infamous author and chef, Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential, Emmy-Award winning TV star of Parts Unknown) and acclaimed novelist Joel Rose (Kill, Kill, Faster, Faster, back again from their New York Times#1 best seller, Get Jiro!). Joining them this issue are stellar artists Alberto Ponticelli and Vanesa Del Rey, with amazing color by Jose Villarrubia, and a drop-dead cover by Paul Pope.  
Just in case you had not heard and are asking "What are Berger Books?" Well, I can tell you that it has nothing to do with fast food and DH employs the usual bold capital letters hyperbole:
"Karen Berger, the legendary, award-winning comic book editor and founder of DC Comics' influential imprint Vertigo, is overseeing Berger Books, a new line of creator-owned comic books and graphic novels being published by Dark Horse Comics". 
Now, Vertigo worked back in 1993 when it published non-Comics Code material of a more adult content.  But that was then and this is now. Basically, DH hopes the new readers will believe the yak-yak and just jump on board and buy! Buy! Buy!  And, yes, Berger was a force (along with her entourage) in the late 1980s and 1990s but what does that mean in 2018 since comics were largely ignoring the comics code anyway in 1993 and now it would be a joke.
Oriental Ghost Stories, as anyone who has read this blog long enough will know, is my "cup of coffee" (or herbal tea meh). I got this copy for £1.50 so far less than buying it in a comic shop. I am very glad of that.
Art was, in places, a bit scratchy but, as I always point out, every artist has his/her own style. That said, this all got pretty boring, pretty fast. The story Pirates looked messy art-wise and at points I was asking myself "What is that?"  Not a good sign. A first issue is supposed to pull the reader in and hook him/her.  The cover is nice enough. 
There are only a certain number of stories in existence and it is how the writer utilises this to make it their own -twists and turns, etc.. The artist then has to follow the script and employ his own style so that you have a story the reader should enjoy.  Bourdain and Rose fail as scripters. Vanesa Del Rey on Pirates fails as an artist -though I wonder whether this was due to a very uninspiring story? 

I have looked at some of Del Rey's illustrations and comic art.  Some of it looks great but I just do not think she is polished enough to draw long strips or comics. Simple as that.
I had seen reviews where the reviewers were not very "excited" by the comic but to be honest the reviews were quite vague.  So when I got this comic I decided to pick out the high points and give a better review.
If this is the book DH launches the line with I'd hate to see what is to come. It was just bland. Boring. Either the company is just using Berger's name to promote the books or she has lost that knack to choose ground-breaking or original work.
That I give a supposed horror comic the thumbs-down is not good. Others may enjoy it but...
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