Of all the species of monsters out there, the plant-based kind is especially overlooked. To me, that’s a travesty. I mean, aren’t we all plant food in the end anyway? Why doesn’t that show up more in horror media? Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I just loved Blood & Gourd so much. It pays tribute to this creeping, natural fear. Or maybe it was the fact that the title is also a pun, which scores pretty big points from yours truly. Then again, the real reason I probably loved this scrappy, scary indie horror comic so much is that it’s the perfect balance between original and classic horror storytelling. Whether you’re a fan of tried-and-true body horror or looking for something different in the horror comic scene, Blood & Gourd is for you.
The story begins (and pretty much remains) on Henderson Farms, a quiet little family establishment located in Olympia, Washington. Henderson Farms has been owned by the family of main character Kitty for generations, but financial strain has forced Kitty and her father to sell to a large and sinister corporation called Seminal. As we meet Kitty, she is currently running the very last pumpkin festival the farm will put on still under the Henderson’s ownership. However, the sadistic owner of Seminal, a man ironically named Mister Pleasant, has dark and terrible plans for the festival. It doesn’t take long to figure out that there are worse things a corporation can do than put out a small business.
A few hours into the festival, terrible things begin happening. People start contracting strange, grotesque symptoms of a terrible curse, sprouting stems and terrible little demon heads. Shadowy agents of Seminal show up speaking of an ancient deity residing somewhere on the farm’s land. Oh, and the pumpkins are coming to life, not to mention growing teeth. What follows is a gory, darkly funny, and visually striking tale of survival in the face of the absurd as Kitty and the rest of the festival goers must make it away from Henderson Farms, and possibly even escape the apocalypse.
We’ll get more into the story later, but first, let’s talk about this book’s art. Artists Dave Acosta, Juan Antonio Ramirez, and Jonas Scharf do an amazing job pulling you into the world of Blood & Gore, seamlessly transitioning between the grounded reality of human characters’ expressions to the organic absurdity of the pumpkin monsters. Fans of 80s-era practical effects monsters will be thrilled by the look these artists give their homegrown horrors, especially the imp-like gourd demons that sprout out gruesomely form their human victims. And if that’s not enough, the character design of this story’s big (and I mean big) bad will have you clamoring for a film adaptation of the series.
“Whether you’re a fan of tried-and-true body horror or looking for something different in the horror comic scene, Blood & Gourd is for you.”
Accompanying the art is a tight and fast-paced script from story creator Jenz K. Lund. Lund keeps the action high-stakes and realistic; we spend most of the story in the immediate fallout from the initial demonic attack on the pumpkin festival. When we do break from the present, it’s just to add some very spooky lore to flesh out this story’s world. If you’re into Faustian deals recorded in eerie folk songs, you’ll love the origins of the evil currently plaguing Henderson Farms. However, don’t for a second think that Lund’s script gets too expositional. He lets the mystery take root and grow, just like a.. well, you get it.
Together, the script and art in this book tell a story that is full of bloody consequences, but doesn’t forget to have some fun along the way. I was entranced by just how much I believed in evil pumpkins as a real villain in a story. Not once did the absurdity of the monsters take me out of the story, and I think that’s because the characters of the story react to the absurdity in a way that feels realistic. Not only does that make for a pretty great mix of horror and hilarity, it also just brought the story home for me in a way that some other, “grittier” horror comic books just have not.
Hot at the Shop:
If there’s anything I didn’t like about Blood & Gourd, it’s that there isn’t enough of it. Right now there are only three issues in the apocalyptic (apumpkaliptic?) creature feature, and there’s so much that still isn’t addressed by the third issue. I know this is a bit of a spoiler, but it’s not a bad idea to go into this story keeping that in mind. Otherwise, I can see how the third issue might seem like an attempt to wrap everything up, though I doubt that’s what the Blood & Gourd team was going for. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions about the evil Seminal corporation, the magic of Henderson Farms, and of course, the fate of the main characters. Keep in mind that there are a ton of loose ends at the end of this series currently, and you might have an even better reading experience.
In short, Blood & Gourd has whatever you want from a horror comic. From unique and memorable monster designs to creepy lore to fleshed-out main characters you can root for, it’s a wild and worthwhile ride into a refreshing horror tale. If you’re anything like me and think horror comics should be supported, check out Blood & Gourd‘s homepage to find out how you can support more Blood & Gourd comics. As I mentioned earlier, this story is far from over. And if this story teaches us anything, it’s to not ignore what’s just started growing.
“…a wild and worthwhile ride into a refreshing horror tale”
If this comic has you wanting more plant-based horror like it did for me, check out Bryce Gibson’s recent article on the Top 10 Killer Plants in Horror. For more comic book fun, check out my interview with Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer Jordie Bellaire. And for all of your horror media news, reviews, and interviews, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. There’s always something spooky sprouting around here, so make sure you keep lurking at Nightmare on Film Street.
Review: BLOOD & GOURD (Comic, 2015)
Blood & Gourd is absurd but engaging, an original story built with familiar monster movie elements. Horror comic fans should seek this one out.