Monday 12 October 2020

Venus In The Blind by Junji Ito

 “It’s because that creepy woman just licked me.”

The horror genre must be a tricky one for the comics medium. Compared to a movie, comics can’t do sudden shocks, or build tension as easily with those suffocating silences, or discordant music, and novels are probably the more effective medium at trapping you in the perspective of the protagonist. What you do get with comics is disturbing imagery; sequential art moves the story forward but also allows that single chilling image to register in the readers’ brain as long as you wish to linger on it – even if you’d rather not.

Junji Ito is known to his fans for producing disturbing Manga series such as Uzumaki and Tomie and Gyo. Venus In The Blind Spot (Viz) collects ten of his short stories showcasing his eye for a really disturbing image and nose for story ideas that range from the faintly chilling to genuinely haunting. A detailed, realistic artwork style means that exaggerated expressions can be even more unsettling – eyes that are too wide, a grimace that is too toothy – but also means that the physical afflictions on the characters can be ‘appreciated’.

This is really nicely edition too; a slightly smaller-sized hardcover with a striking dust jacket, predominantly in black white but also with a few coloured pages. Aside from one autobiographical story about Ito’s love of horror Manga from childhood (although, even that has a playful style that feels creepy), this book is an excellent example of horror ‘what if…?’ stories and a masterclass at how they can be achieved in the comics medium.

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