Thee Comic Column #64: Save Rachel Rising

image courtesy of ifanboy.com

This week’s column was originally going to be about the best comic book news all year – the return of David Lapham’s Stray Bullets! However in the cosmic balance of ying/yang, the good news was almost immediately followed by the worst news in comics this year. The heartbreak arrived via Twitter when earlier in the week when iconic comic book creator Terry Moore – best known for the long-running and highly influential series Strangers in Paradise – tweeted the following about his newest series, Rachel Rising:

Since that tweet there has been an amazing outpouring of support across the internet for the book, but in this digital age of low margins and difficult sales – especially for a book published through Moore’s own independent imprint Abstract Studios – the support can never be enough. After my initial shock at the state of the book’s sales I did a small piece on my blog and sent it out into the ether along with all the others who spent their virtual week touting just how amazing Rachel Rising is, however I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t take every opportunity afforded me to lavish praise on my second favorite monthly book and try and convince more folks to take a step onto the dark and brooding path Moore’s story is carving through the woods of our county’s historical peculiarities.

Many of you out there that read comics or dig sophisticated horror but have not yet read Rachel Rising will absolutely love it. I’m not embellishing and I can’t overstate the impact it has already had on other creators – more well known and high profile creators – in the roughly two-and-a-half years since it began. Examples of this begin with the newest season of FX hit show American Horror Story, whose third season ‘Coven’ focuses on witchcraft. Likewise the Lifetime show The Witches of East End. Perhaps even Rob Zombie’s recent film The Lords of Salem, which began shooting in October of 2011 and thus was most likely written prior to Rachel Rising #1’s August 3rd, 2011 release date, yet both stories share a very close element of plot – murdered witches returning to inhabit their souls’ newer incarnations of flesh. I don’t want to sound like I’m attempting to wage a pissing contest on Mr. Moore’s behalf, just pointing out that when powerful creators stir the cosmic broth zeitgeists are born, with Moore’s book at the very least occupying a place on the ground floor of this strange Witchcraft boom that appears to be working its way over popular culture.

Rachel Rising is currently on issue #21 so to some it may seem daunting to jump on. My take on that is I’ve never been worried about coming in late on a book – I often look forward to it. Sandman, Hellblazer, Ex Machina, The Walking Dead – these are all books that I originally began reading well into their continuity and you know what? The race to buy the trades and catch up was a thrill I wouldn’t trade for anything. Sure, having the first two years of an ongoing title in bookshelf and the rest in a long box wreaks a little havoc with the anal retentive part of me that likes to catalogue, arrange and display my stuff, but that part of me often needs a swift kick in the tucus because really, it’s about the STORY folks. And Rachel Rising‘s story is deep and dark, intricately plotted and a bit of a habitual obsession. The first 18 issues are collected in handy dandy volumes and can easily be purchased  at your local comic shop, or, if you don’t have a local or prefer shopping in your pajamas, here or digitally here. The rest needed to bring you up to speed are also probably sitting on your local comic shops shelves (or again, available on comixology in that second link above).

So what’s my pitch? I keep talking about the intricacies of the story but “what’s it about man?” Well, the series begins with the titular character waking up in a shallow grave, noose burns around her neck and every blood vessel in her eyes burst. Rachel’s dead, and after kind of coming to terms with that – but not really – she uses careful contact with her friends and family in the small town of Manson to begin investigating just what exactly has happened to her. As that investigation escalates so do some creepy occurrences around town –  a town that back in the Puritan era had its own brand of witch trials. More people begin to die in weird, terrible ways. A little girl becomes inhabited by a malicious spirit and the body count starts to climb, as do the number of bodies that don’t stay down after they’re dead.

image courtesy of artagem.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously I’m trying to convince you all to go out and give this book a try and since I know that when you do you’ll fall under the sublime spell of its many mysteries I really don’t want to give away too much more here. What I will say in conclusion is that Rachel Rising is hardly just a unique and sophisticated take on the undead craze that currently owns the pop culture’s collective imagination. Terry Moore’s story slowly twists and turns like a neck in a noose, evolving into something that not only ties directly into the era of the Salem witch trials but also some of the stranger elements of our nation’s history, the darker corners of the Judeo-Christian religion’s mythology and even some seemingly disparate but completely tone-appropriate historical events (I’ll give you one hint – think Whitechapel). All of this comes into its own in a big way, broadening the scope of the series and proving yet again how much of a master plotter Terry Moore is. He expands the story and answers the questions slowly, preferring to let the undeniably creepy vibe he has created hang in the air around his characters, enveloping them, mutating them. And yeah, Rachel Rising is creepy – Serpent and the Rainbow creepy. John Carpenter at his prime creepy. Algernon Blackwood creepy. And because of that, it owns a place in my heart for all eternity. If you’re reading this then you’re most likely a fan of comics, and if you’re a fan of comics I’d be willing to bet you will LOVE Rachel Rising.

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Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

 

 

 

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Thee Comic Column #64: Save Rachel Rising
  1. [...] week before the bad news pertaining to one of my favorite books there was some good news. No, scratch th... joup.co/thee-comic-column-65-return-stray-bullets

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