Comet Press present Red Room. This is the press’ first foray into magazine publishing and in my opinion they have hit a home run with some great stories, great interviews and solid non-fiction, too. There is some really tasty stuff in here, fiction-wise, particularly the stories from David James Keaton, Tom Barlow and Jack Ketchum which are the standouts for me.
Opening with Nick Manzolillo’s The Phantom Video Stream, Red Room gets off to a great start. I enjoyed the Twilight Zone feel of this story-very cool and a great way to kick things off. A short non-fiction piece about video nasties is up next and it fits the magazine well. I well remember the furore created during the 80s. Mary Whitehouse was at the centre of most of it. She held views that a more permissive society was being created through such things as video nasties, Alice Cooper and even Chuck Berry! Had she still been alive today I wonder what she would make of the world we now live in?
Anyway, I digress. More fiction, and Tim Waggoner rarely disappoints when it comes to writing. His tale has a wicked twist and is thoroughly entertaining as is often the case with Tim’s work. Larry Hinkle’s flash piece is the sort of story Jeffrey Dahmer would enjoy reading…I’ll leave it at that. Selfie by Tom Barlow is excellent and probably my favourite story in the magazine. It is a story that will make you wince and think twice about assuming someones identity…especially if it is the identity of your gay twin brother!
Elsewhere, I loved David James Keaton’s The Flowery. It is a story of bikies and what lengths they will go to remove a tattoo. I’ll tell you this now, there are scenes in this featuring a jack hammer that will make you feel ill. A truly bonkers and bloody tale, I love it. I also dug the Jack Ketchum story. I’ve read it before, but still it is worth a re-read. No-one does urban psychological horror like Ketchum.
This is a great debut issue for Comet Press, and if they keep the quality of content this high then the magazine will be a success. I have no hesitation in recommending this to fans of dark horror and crime.
4/5 blood-soaked walls from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.