Monday, 1 December 2014

Josh Simmons returns with new book, Black River, in 2015


Perhaps a slightly mis-leading title- the 'returns'- Simmons has been producing comics, most notably with Oily: Habit, Daddy (illustrated by James Romberger), Flayed Corpse, Training- but this will be his first full length graphic novel since 2007's silent horror, House. The Furry Trap, a collection of various, older comics from various publications (as well as self-published material) was released in a hardback volume from Fantagraphics in 2012.  I'm a fan of Simmons; I like both the quiet pressurised horror of House, in which a group of friends get lost when exploring an abandoned building, and the more overt, graphic nature of the work he's perhaps better known for, which marries 'taboo' subjects with depravity and bad taste, shock humour- something I'm not always for as it can feel very superficial if it doesn't get to the gut of its subject, but which Simmons can get right more often than not.

At 112 pages, this new book sounds ripe for a story that promises to inhabit a middle-ground between the two. Black River, due to be published in May next tear, follows a group of women, one man, and two dogs as they make their way through 'a post-apocalyptic world in search of a city that supposedly still has electricity and some sort of civilization. Along the way, they go to a comedy club, take a drug called Gumdrop, and encounter gangs of men who are either fools, lunatics, or murderous sadists. In other words, all manner of terrors.' Stripping people to their real, bare vestiges is one of the core themes in Simmons' work, and there are few things that facilitate that than a post-apocalyptic, each-man-for-himself survival situation. Very much looking forward to this and in seeing what approach Simmons will take; House is an overlooked work, and I hope this garners  a balance of that restraint and stifling psychology to produce something of equal stature.