Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? This gorgeous, coffee-table art book is a compendium of old, forgotten haunted houses imagined by artist Ben Catmull, along with the stories and rumors of who haunts them, and why. Each spread features a different haunted house, lovingly and exquisitely rendered in scratchboard on masonite, with a short, nightmare-inducing description of each scene.
In “Drowned Shelley,” for example:
A chorus of frogs surrounds the house where young Shelley was drowned headfirst in the bathtub by her drunken stepfather. Say her name 13 times while looking in the pond and she will drown you in your sleep. Say her name the wrong number of times while looking in the pond, and she will leave hair in your breakfast dishes. Say her name 13 times while not looking in the pond, and she will watch you when you clip your toenails. Mispronounce her name 13 times while looking anywhere near the pond, and she will kick you somewhere delicate at the stroke of midnight.
Catmull’s images are evocative, haunting masterpieces that never tread in graphic imagery, choosing instead to suggest horrors far more frightening than what they explicitly depict. With just the right touch of humor to balance the terror, Ghosts and Ruins is sure to please fans of Edward Gorey or Tim Burton, and makes a perfect gift book for the ghost story fan in your house.
Ben Catmull is an Oakland based artist who first entered the world of alternative comics through the Bay Area mini comics collective Puppy Toss back in the early nineties. He has been slowly squeezing out comics and randomly showing up to comic book events ever since. His last comic, Monster Parade, was published by Fantagraphics in 2006 and his brand new book, Ghosts and Ruins, will be debuting at CAKE. Look for him at the Fantagraphics table.
Fantagraphics is a publisher of the World’s Greatest Cartoonists