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As we continue on into the terrifying month of October the time comes around once more for another one of my Halloween Picks. This week’s tale is from none other than a master of the southern macabre himself, Joe R. Lansdale, with a basis in the short story by the esteemed Robert E. Howard, of Conan the Barbarian fame. For those familiar with these two the pick should be clear as day – as who can forget about the Pigeons From Hell?
Pigeons From Hell is the kind of story that sets out as being of a really cliche and standard nature, but offers some key twists and genre variations along the way. Lansdale takes Howard’s classic story of a backwoods southern voodoo mansion and breathes new life into it as a “house in the woods” type of supernatural fright fest. That might seem like a contradiction, but it is all about execution, which is something at which Lansdale and artist Nathan Fox excel.
Fox’s art contributes a lot to the story’s goofy, off beat, but still effective tone. To try and find a proper comparison, I would have to go back to something like Tales From The Crypt, or more specifically the first movie – Demon Knight. It’s that same breadth of color and expression that really makes it more entertaining than truly horrifying, but if it had tried for that it wouldn’t have been as memorable. It’s an old trade off that some horror media has to face, but it played well.
The story is shifted somewhat due to this aesthetic change, but it nevertheless remains engaging. The characters might not be the most fleshed out, but as archetypes they ride that fine line between annoyingly flat and enjoyably two-dimensional. Another contradiction, but there’s something endearing about simple characters, a fact that has been lost on so many. There’s nothing wrong with characters that just enjoy minimal attributes, if handled well.
Nathan Fox’s art really carries the endeavor during any lulls and is a treat for the most part. There are moments where it may come off as a bit more obscured and muddled, but it doesn’t really hurt much. The titular pigeons come off as rather demonic and menacing, perfectly counterpointing the dirty and casual visuals that accompany our protagonists. Just like the abandoned mansion in the comic itself, they seem unprepared to deal with the task at hand.
At a brisk four issues, Pigeons From Hell is a solid work by some talented creators. It might not be the most effective chiller like our previous pick, but it’s something to while away a chilly fall afternoon. Lansdale and Fox could have cut some things here and maybe buffed some things, but there are not so many of these instances to bring the average down. A mid-October relaxing story, just what the doctor ordered. Thoughts and comments would be appreciated below.