Review by Ian Keogh
House of Fear is a young adult version of the classic horror/supernatural anthologies that sustained comics through the 1950s. In each of James Powell’s five stories a group of kids come face to face with the unknown in the form of a monster, and it initially seems as if the intended younger readers will see through the curtain, as some pluck and ingenuity saves the day. While Powell characterises the children featured in the opening two tales well, those takes are predictable. Perhaps calling the first ‘Attack of the Killer Snowmen’, was to whet the appetite, but it’s sure no surprise when the killer snowmen turn up. And guess what, they’re susceptible to hot fluids and salt. Likewise, the second tale telegraphs what’s going to happen with its campfire atmosphere and a kid who cries wolf.
It’s with the third tale that House of Fear moves beyond the predictable. Not counting James Hislope’s single page introduction and epilogue, which feature in every story, there are only seven pages to ‘Leaving’, but it flies in the face of the comforting endings found beforehand. That also applies to the following story presenting a terrifying tooth fairy, and the creativity found in twisting the expectations when an old abandoned house, said to be haunted, takes the spotlight.
Jethro Morales is credited as artist for the bulk of the content, and he has a neat expressive style, is good at drawing children as children rather than scaled down adults, giving them personality, and keeping the terror within acceptable bounds for the audience. He’s credited for the tooth fairy story, but the opening section at least looks to be a different artist, whose figures are stiffer. The final piece is the work of Adrián Bago González, whose pages are cartooning rather than naturalistic, and a considerable contrast to the pages from Morales. He also has a few issues with foreshortening.
The good art will take you past the predictability of the first stories, to the shivers to be found in the remainder, so House of Fear ultimately serves its purpose.