Created, written and illustrated by Joseph Schmalke and Rich Woodall, edited by Shawn French, book design by Rich Woodall.
The Electric Black is the pulp horror story of a cursed antique shop and the items on sale within, each of their backstories introduced in an anthology-style format by the creepy, Vincent Price-like proprietor, Julius Black.
The book is horrific, it’s campy, and it hits the sweet spot between those two with absolute confidence and flair. Schmalke and Woodall share both art and writing duties and are in perfect sync, bringing a characterful, disconcerting style to both throughout. Although a couple of times a bit of visual clarity is lost (perhaps due to squeezing in so much content), the end result is an exuberant masterclass in just how fun horror can be.
Electric Black also avoids the trap that a lot of horror short story collections can fall into, of feeling shallow – providing horrific tale after horrific tale and nothing more. This is a grim and bloody book, but it just about skirts the gratuitous (again a fine line when presenting short format B-movie horror stories), and there seems to be an overarching twisted narrative at the heart of this, setting up some depth to come.
In fact, Electric Black is bubbling over with energy and ideas, making it all the more impressive that it feels so cohesive even when the issue-to-issue format is so varied – some issues focus on the shop, some act more like short story collections, and some tell longer historical tales. They all feel like elements of the same world, and the variety keeps the series fresh and unpredictable.
Moreover, this variety convinced me that the creators have years’ worth of engaging stories to tell. And if those stories are as delectably unpleasant as the ones here in volume 1, they’ll be well worth your time.
Electric Black, Vol. 1. $8.99 (digital) $17.99 (TPB) – for 114 pages of content. Mature Rating.
Reviewed by Tom Woodman @TomMayoWoodman