REVIEW: Phantastique Vol.1

PHANTASTIQUE Vol. 1
TALES OF TABOO TERROR

Contributors: Steve Carter, Antoinette Rydyr, Rod Williams, Pete Correy, Dez Waterman, Dillon Naylor, Ross Radiation, Ryan Vella, Glenn Smith, Glenn Lumsden, Jason Paulos, Fred Enroht

PUNK IS NOT DEAD.

IT JUST CHANGED MEDIUMS AND HIBERNATED FOR A BIT.

 

In the first story, ‘NEOFEMS,’ there is a character named Satan Gestapo.

That’s right. Satan Gestapo. His gang of biker centurions battle bunyips. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then this book is not for you. Also, if it doesn’t interest you – are you okay? Why don’t you like awesome things?

Phantastique is an amalgamation of everything I loved about the late 80’s and early 90’s. To read Phantastique is to be teleported to a by-gone era of skate decks, ratfink graffiti, Pantera on tape and Hellraiser on VHS. Even though I read it digitally, I could still smell the funk of old vans sneakers and sweat from a Slayer concert. If nothing else, this book made me feel old, but in a good way. I accept that what I once thought of as ‘gnarly’ is now vintage. That doesn’t make it bad. In fact, books like Phantastique only serve to prove a point. Sure, we get old quickly and  the 90’s are now considered sentimental, but it’s the subversive counter culture of the 90’s that fuels this nostalgic fire. Phantastique not only stokes that fire, it throws a ton of dynamite on it as a tribute.

Consisting of 18 short stories, Phantastique collects them and throws them in the readers face. It’s a nonstop barrage of heavy metal, gore, pastels, and twisted tales of doom and evil. It’s something you’d imagine Beavis and Butthead would worship.

Art by Ryan Vella

It’s like 108 pages of The Twilight Zone on acid. Interestingly, Phantastique is mostly old sequential stories that have been given a freshen up, almost like a remaster for todays audience. Most are from less than 10 years ago, which could be seen as modern, but it becomes apparent how much has changed in terms of what is ‘acceptable.’ That’s something to remember when reading this – its not meant for you in the here and now. It is chock full of attitudes that simply would not fly today. Is that unfortunate? Up to you as an individual, I guess.

It is worth noting that the cover art to this book has a title in and of itself, something I had never seen before. ‘Filicide of the Gorgon’…. How do they come up with so many metal names for things? I feel like I owe everyone involved in the creation of Phantastique a beer. It is also important to remember the creators are away of what this book contains and give you fair warning. Creator Steve Carter begins with a missive titled ‘You Can’t Put That On The Newstand Anymore!’ which gives some history of the publication. It is interesting stuff, and very inspiring.

To review every story in Phantastique would be an exercise in futility, and would not do justice to all the creators involved. Instead, I will cull some choice cuts.

—–

Art by Dez Waterman and Antoinette Rydyr

GREETINGS FROM WITHIN
by Dez Waterman and Antoinette Rydyr

This is one of the best stories in the collection. Distressing and with an edge of sci-fi body-horror, this tale has a great finale that cements it as a classic, Twilight Zone-esque experience. Its also possibly the least ‘offensive’ story, and that is saying a lot.

—–

 BAD BLOOD
by Antoinette Rydyr, Steve Carter and Ryan Vella

What starts as an intriguing prehistoric tribal hunt screeches to a stop with a foul and violent punchline. I loved, loved, loved it. However, this is the story that made me raise my eyebrows and consider that this is a story from another time.

—–

Art by Jason Paulos

THE EMISSARY
by Antoinette Rydyr, Steve Carter and Jason Paulos

Jason Paulous’ art is so wonderful, it sucked me in so much that the tragic punchline to this particular story really caught me off guard. It appears to be the only story in Phantastique that asks to be taken seriously, as all others have some sort of levity. It really is the art that makes this story stand out – it is sombre and wavy, reminding me of old Phantom comics.

—–

DR SADIST AND HIS NYMPHO MAN EATERS
by Antoinette Rydyr, Steve Carter and Dez Waterman

Reminiscent of the old video nasty hammer horror films (anyone else remember those?). One of the longer stories on offer, the title pretty much gives it all away. Be prepared for some horribly entertaining panels.

—–

Art by Antoinette Rydyr and Steve Carter

SKIN DEEP
by Antoinette Rydyr and Steve Carter

This one has awesome and disturbing sequencing. Quick, easy, and to the point, it exists solely for a punchline. Kind of like a proto web comic (first published in 1995), only much better.

—–

HE CAME BACK
by Antoinette Rydyr, Steve Carter and Fred Enroht

This story feels the most vintage in the collection and for good reason. Story and art are from 1986, with the colours and letters being added in 2016. This is a feat that needs to be talked about. What a great concept – creators collaborating over the decades. Worth checking out for this point alone, He Came Back is also the most punk rock thing I’ve read in a while. It is super gross.

—–

In an increasingly PC world Phantastique is a breath of freshly pungent air for an old codger like me . It’s good to escape and enjoy. If you are of the ilk that this content will offend – still, please, give it a go! Not only is it a throwback to old comedic sensibilities, but also an opportunity to see how far we have come.  Even though most of these stories only came from the last decade, it is certainly interesting to gauge your response to it now versus how you would feel reading it back then.

Phantastique is truly vulgar, and I for one enjoyed it on so many levels.

I feel the need to shower, a cup of tea and a trip to church after reading this.

…Dammit.

Satan Gestapo. That is such a COOL name.

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About James Cassingham Randall

James Cassingham Randall
James Cassingham Randall lives in Brisbane with his wife and cats. He collaborates with artist Dan Watts, and is currently working on a few short stories for Bipp and Trax: Intergalactic Real Estate. James enjoys whiskey, ice hockey, a good narrative, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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3 comments

  1. Steve Carter

    Cool review! Thanks James!

  2. I love this book, even though some stories are beyond words. The stories have genuine attitude.

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