THOUGHT BUBBLE 2023! Behind an eerily enticing and actually rather gruesome (don’t let those vibrant colours fool you!) Michael Kennedy cover, Underground Kingdom Comix Presents: Horror is a mini-anthology collection of comics shorts published by the titular micropublisher formed by UK cartoonists Mat Greaves, Samuel Hickson and the aforementioned Kennedy. Another Thought Bubble-debuting book it seems rather appropriate to be reviewing it just after the tail-end of October given its subject matter.
Comprising three complete comics shorts plus single illustrations by Garresh and Anna Readman (Readman’s gorgeously grotesque and troll-themed one-page illustration will ensure The Lost Loiners completists will want in on this anthology) Underground Kingdom Comix Presents: Horror features work by Kai Reynolds, Samuel Hickson and Forpe.
The highlight of the issue is undoubtedly Samuel Hickson’s ‘Taglio Finale’ wherein a cult horror film director is given the opportunity to talk about his career and movies in front of a festival audience. It has a suitably EC-style comeuppance motif to its denouement with the career retrospective angle giving Hickson plenty of latitude to really go for broke visually in the cosmic horror stakes.
Kai Reynolds uses a loose-form, expressionistic style and disturbing blue-tone cutaways in ‘Agony Tides’ as a relationship deteriorates and disintegrates. While elements of this felt somewhat oblique even after multiple re-reads there’s an unquestionable feeling of unsettling tension permeating its pages. Finally we have Darrell Thorpe (aka “Forpe”) and ‘Codless’, a sea monster story that while standard in set-up and plot makes fun use of Thorpe’s distinctive, blocky visuals and with a creature design that is so B-movie ridiculous that it’s utterly endearing.
Also making its first appearance at Thought Bubble will be sister anthology Underground Kingdom Comix Presents: Crime. The UK anthology scene has been if not dormant then certainly subdued when it comes to the small press in recent years. It’s pleasing then to see Underground Kingdom Comix doing their bit to bring them to the indie foreground once again.
Michael Kennedy, Anna Readman, Samuel Hickson, Darrell Thorpe/Forpe, Kai Reynolds, Garresh • Underground Kingdom Comix
Mat Greaves is at Table C32-B in the Dstlry Hall at Thought Bubble 2023
Review by Andy Oliver