Review by Win Wiacek
Richard Sala was a lauded and brilliantly gifted comics creator who deftly blended beloved pop culture artefacts and conventions – particularly cheesy comics and old horror films – with a hypnotically effective ability to tell a graphic tale.
His work remains welcomingly atmospheric, dryly ironic, wittily quirky and mordantly funny, indulgently celebrating childhood terrors, gangsters, bizarre events, monsters and manic mysteries, with a host of women as his stars of choice. His art is a joltingly jolly, if macabre, joy.
This compelling mystery melange combines a quartet of short comics treats commencing with the eponymous ‘Violenzia’: a vividly coloured and constructed pastiche of Hammer Horror films. It presents a mystery maid and her gleaming guns, rousing villagers and pitilessly dealing with a sinister murder cult in the manner they deserve all while getting ever-closer to a very familiar monk-like mastermind.
That smartly witty, twisty tale segues to an eerie sepia sampled soliloquy, poetically and despondently following a foredoomed soul retracing his steps until horrifying recalling what he’d ‘Forgotten’.
Macabre musings in the mode of a child’s alphabet primer, ‘Malevolent Reveries – An Alphabetical Exhibition’ mixes rhyme with crafty pictures of the artist’s cartoon canon of characters. ‘An Afternoon of Appalling Apparitions’ to ‘Zero Hour on Zombie Island’ cannily calm the nerves before climactic chills are unleashed when ‘Violenzia Returns’. This time her gunsights are set on the Council of Augers and her dogged pursuit throws up some sudden surprises and a whiff of doomed romance; or possibly just doom.
Clever, compelling and staggeringly engaging, this fabulous farrago of fantastic fiends and ferocious fights is a perfect introduction to Sala’s worlds. It provides a sublimely nostalgic escape hatch back to days when unruly children scared themselves silly under the bedcovers at night, and an ideal gift for idle moments for the big kid in your life – whether he/she/they are just you, imaginary or even relatively real.