May 17th, 2011 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Graphic Novels & Comics |

Welcome to Hoxford by Ben Templesmith

by Ghastly McNasty

Welcome to HoxfordBen Templesmith is probably best known for his artistic skills in Fell, 30 Days of Night, and Criminal Macabre. In Welcome to Hoxford, Templesmith unleashes his creative writing skills and, just as his exceptional artwork proves, this talented award winning Australian is a grand master in horror.

Welcome to Hoxford is a four-issue mini-series released by IDW Publishing in 2008. The story centers on a group of murderers, rapists and psychopaths so deeply damaged and deranged that the state prison system cannot treat or even house them. Instead they are delivered to the privatized correctional institution of Hoxford and in to the hands of Warden Baker chief representative of the mysterious Usmanov Corporation.

It’s a fantastic setting for a horror comic. Trapped within the confines of a soulless private prison under the control of a faceless corporation, the inmates are beyond any form of salvation. These criminals are off the radar, without hope and without a way back. It’s a desperate situation which only adds to the oppressive atmosphere of the book.

As we get to know the prisoners we start to feel thankful they are locked up with no chance of redemption or escape. Morton: Pedophile and Murderer, Burly Bill: Rapist and Murderer, Skunty: Necrophiliac and Murderer, Gravy: Cannibal and Murderer, Jones: Cop Killer and Sadistic Torturer. Each character is introduced along with his own particular brand of craziness, almost like how members of the A-Team would be introduced via their own skill or talent (this is Face, he’s the ladies man), but just horribly evil. These are the guys we’re supposed to be routing for?

The main protaganist is one Ray Delgado a delusional monster of a man with more servere mental issues than the rest of the cast put together. While the other criminals are simply very bad people, Ray is crazier than a coconut and rather bitey! Oh yes, he’s just stopped taking his medication! Overall it’s a fantastic cast which only helps to draw you deep into the story.

Welcome to Hoxford by Ben TemplesmithWith an awesome setting in place and a cast of psychotic killers lined-up for slaughter Templesmith unleashes his monsters in to the mix with an abundance of violence and gore. The frantic action suits the artist’s wild style and the simple colour palette of prison grey, dirty brown and blood red blur together to disorientate the reader and ramp up the fear.

With so many villainous types in this novel the real monsters needed to be truly horrible. Fortunately I really enjoyed the werewolves in Welcome to Hoxford. Visually they are all teeth, claws and ears. These are the type of slobbering carnivorous beasts that made werewolves frightening in the first place. You wouldn’t cuddle up to one of these bad-boys for warmth. I thanks the artist for making his werewolves old school scary.

It’s also a credit to to the authors writing skills that we find ourselves cheering on Ray Delgado. His insanity is so creepy and odd that we almost take pity on him. He drifts through the comic like an unstoppable destructive force showing the path of the righteous man can not be broken by even the most horrific of creatures.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic horror novel. It’s got that something special about it that makes it great, a confidence in it’s own ability to impress and scare. This positive vibe has meant that Welcome to Hoxford is also due to get the Hollywood treatment in 2012. I advise you to read the graphic novel before you watch the movie. The author had a vision of a great horror story when creating this book, you should enjoy this raw experience before it gets sanitized.

Check out the Welcome to Hoxford website.

by Ghastly McNasty

Theatre of Terror

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