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Scream Queen
posted June 10, 2005

Creators: Ho Che Anderson
Publishing Info: Fantagraphics, $12.95, 56 pages
Ordering Numbers: 1560976519 (ISBN)

imageAfter the compressed storytelling and abrupt stylistic shifts of the collected King, Ho Che Anderson's latest project is a thin exercise in atmosphere and mood dated 2003, utilizing lovingly rendered stories and figures buttressed by what look like blown-up panels, roughness of line exposed. A young woman who has lost her car to engine problems is picked up on the side of the road by a striking woman in an evening dress in goggles. They share a drink at her gas-station job and then the woman continues on to her mission, as Scream Queen reveals itself as a horror story. The striking woman in the dress is a vaguely defined agent of retribution who exacts revenge on a target who at this point thought he had escaped. I could be wrong, but it seemed to me that Anderson was also presenting a mirrored situation -- the woman in the dress and goggle didn't think she was going to ever be a victim, either. The climax descends into just enough visceral horror to stand out against the noir backdrop crated in earlier scenes. In fact, by slowing things down and creating this level of reality in the backgrounds, Anderson's tendency to slip into arch, self-aware dialogue becomes generally mitigated, to fine effect. This is a nicely done short story and while I would greatly question the production values and price point in terms of Scream Queen finding its audience, I'm pretty happy to own one.