Wednesday, October 27, 2021

#IReadsYou Review: NOCTURNALS: Carnival of Beasts


STORY: Dan Brereton
ART: Dan Brereton; Viktor Kalvachev; Ruben Martinez
COLORS: Dan Brereton; Viktor Kalvachev; Viet Nguyen
LETTERS: Sean Glenn; Viktor Kalvachev
COVER: Dan Brereton
64pp, Color, $6.99 (July 2008)

The Nocturnals created by Daniel Brereton

Nocturnals was a six-issue comic book series created by artist Dan Brereton and published in 1994-1995 under defunct-publisher Malibu Comics’ “Bravura” imprint.  Those six issues were collectively subtitled “Black Planet,” and later became a trade paperback from Oni Press in 1998.

Nocturnals focused on the supernatural exploits of Doc Horror and his daughter, Eve, in Pacific City, a fictional California town that was the center of the weirdest paranormal activity one could imagine or even beyond what one could imagine.  Doc Horror led what was essentially his own “family,” a group of social outcasts, weird folks, mutants, ghosts, and monster people.  There was the ghost woman, Polychrome; the amphibious woman, Starfish; the pyrokinetic, Firelion; the reptile man, Komodo; the animal-human gangster, Raccoon; and Eve’s bodyguard, the undead gunslinger, Gunwitch.

After a few more appearances (a short story serial in Dark Horse Presents and two three-issue miniseries), the Nocturnals were quiet, as was their papa, Dan Brereton, as a comics creator.  Brereton brought his creepy comics creations back in the 2008 one-shot Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts, published by Image Comics.

Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts was meant to fit (chronologically) between Black Planet and the three-issue miniseries, Nocturnals: The Dark Forever (2001-02).  Carnival of Beasts finds Doc Horror and company taking on a small group of evil scientists that have been turning children into monster kids – this while Doc Horror is taking Eve to her new boarding school, Nightshade School.  Two short stories, one featuring Starfish and the other, Eve, round out this comic book.

THE LOWDOWN:  Brereton always immersed Nocturnals in pulp storytelling and filled the pages of these comics with an eclectic mixture of moody atmosphere and colorful and fantastic creatures (think Clive Barker’s Nightbreed meets Scooby-Doo meets Universal Monsters meets Tim Burton’s stop-motion films).  What makes the Nocturnals even more... delicious is Brereton’s painted artwork.  Brereton is one of the few comic book painters whose painted artwork captures that unique feel of comics penciled, inked, and colored the old-fashioned way.

Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts is excellent material, but it is also probably the least impressive in this small body of work.  However, Carnival of Beasts was more imaginative and fun than 99 percent of the superhero comics being published by DC, Marvel, Image, or Dark Horse at the time of its original publication.

Years ago, I had a short correspondence with Dan Brereton, and at one point he said that he had to put a lot of work into his comics for what seemed like little return.  I gave my $6.99 to buy Carnival of Beasts and all my admiration to this exceptional artist and comic book creator, even if it didn't make up for his blood, sweat, and tears.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Daniel Brereton and of The Nocturnals will want Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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