Writer: Si Spencer
Release Date: October 2015
Okay, let’s get this out of the way early – KLAXON, the upcoming urban horror tale from writer Si Spencer and artist Dix, is weird. I mean really weird. It’s also fairly difficult to explain, let alone review. However, as that’s what I’m paid the big bucks for (metaphorically speaking at least), I figured I should at least try. A whirlwind of abstract imagery and surreal horror, the book introduces us to three wasters living in a run-down bedsit who find their lives gradually infected by the disturbing presence of their new neighbours’ landlord – a grotesquely grinning monstrosity called Mister Stapleton.
As Mister Stapleton’s unnatural influence slowly grows, the hallucinatory imagery and bizarre, dream-like sequences only intensify, with sporadic downpours of liquorice allsorts, milk binges and a puzzling exchange with a cherub holding a television set all adding to the oddly disorientating story. There’s a brief spark of familiarity – an almost ‘love story’ between Carlisle, one of the wasters, and Carole, the woman who moves in next door – but even that is twisted and contorted into something uncomfortable, unsettling and… well… weird.
One thing that’s a little easier to describe is the artwork of DIX, an intentionally murky and disorientating visual aesthetic that adds immeasurably to the notes of dark horror on display. All of the characters are grotesquely exaggerated, even the supposedly ‘normal’ ones, giving the book a truly unnerving visual style. His colour work is also truly fitting for the story, with washed-out yellows and greys echoing the grimness of the location.
Okay, cards on the table time. As much as I found myself wanting to love it, I found KLAXON to be a little too abstract for me to fully appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, the power of the imagery and the weirdly hypnotic feel of the fractured narrative are definitely appealing, but I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I was missing something all the way through. Perhaps that was the intention though, as this definitely feels like a book which is meant to unnerve and confuse, but again, I can’t say that with much certainty – so perhaps it did its job a little too well?
Taking a weirdly skewed look at working class British life by way of one of the weirdest acid trips you’ve ever imagined, KLAXON is a truly intriguing read, and – I can say this with absolute confidence – is like absolutely nothing else on the shelves today. Lovers of surrealist urban horror will be in absolute heaven, but for me, I just couldn’t get my head around the boldly unconventional concept enough for me to truly enjoy it – assuming that ‘enjoying it’ was even the creators’ intention in the first place.