GloomCookieA lonely monster sits in his castle, day after day, longing to be visited by happy trick-or-treaters. Finally, the moment arrives…and what a treat it is! For the monster…

This previously unpublished story sets the tone for the convoluted romances, mysterious dreams, tortured (and torturous) poetry, and general goth fest that follows. Lex is looking for the perfect dark romance, someone who will really make her feel squishy. Max is looking for acceptance from the queen bee of mysterious darkness, Isabella. Damien is searching for freedom from his curse. Sebastian is looking for the truth about his family. Their stories meet, intertwine and part through meetings in night clubs and fantastical dreams. Some characters are monsters underneath, but we never see their true faces. Some monsters turn out to be figures of romance and tragedy. Does the Carnival Macabre really exist? Is Isabella a monster within because of her cruelty and arrogance, or is she hiding an even darker secret? Fantasy and reality collide in a brooding series of shadow-laden scenes.

Lex and Isabella are the two main characters of this series, constantly meeting and clashing in nightclubs, in nightmares, in fantasies, and in a final climactic battle in a cemetery. They are surrounded by the men they desire and who desire them. Sebastian’s search for his family is a side note to the main story, as he follows the Carnival Macabre which is following Isabella.

Naifeh’s elaborate black and white art emphasizes the carefully chosen costumes of the goth characters, their dedication to the world they have created around them and the shadows that surround and inhabit them. The characters often look like stylized wood carvings with a single tear cutting a slice down a cheek or delicately scrolled hair styles. Each character’s style and personality is carefully defined by their clothing and attitude. His characters brood, celebrate, posture, weep and fall in love in a beautifully illustrated world of dreams and darkness.

A foreword by Caitlin Kiernan, galleries of the characters, sketch gallery of their formation, Lex’s vocabulary list, fan art, and a “backword” Breehn John Burns are included, all of which will delight the die-hard fan of Naifeh’s special brand of darkness.

This collection of goth-themed comics by Serena Valentino, illustrated by Ted Naifeh, is sure to capture the interest of teens and adults who like tragic romance with a strong serving of atmosphere, mystic mysteries, and a few light touches of humor. Some sexual behavior is pictured and the themes of searching for relationships and freedom are best suited to an older teen and adult audience.

by Serena Valentino
Art by Ted Naifeh
ISBN: 0943151341
Slave Labor Graphics, 2001

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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