The two-part horror comic, Sick & Party Invasion, has a very simple mission statement: It’s going to terrify you, disturb you, and it’s going to do all of this without an ounce of mercy. Writer AJ O. Mason and artist, colorist, and letterer Ethan Lu will play with your expectations. They’ll introduce you to charming characters and familiar themes, but they won’t offer the comfort these tropes usually provide. No, it’s all part of their plan to get you feeling vulnerable and open. The Kickstarter is live, and you’ll want to make sure you get yourself a copy while there’s still time.
Mason begins the first story, “Sick,” with a protagonist we’ve seen before. A young man sits on a bus with his earphones in. He’s bored with life and he’s angry that he feels stuck in a rut. But soon, a beautiful woman wanders up and asks if she can take the seat next to him. The bus, shown in the background of each panel, is empty. She’s here for a purpose. She wants to tell Holden, our bored protagonist, a story. Just when you think you’ve heard her story before, Mason pulls the rug out from under you. You’re left with a simple thought, one that Mason’s title suggests he intends to leave you with: “This is sick.”
“Party Invasion” is equally twisted, but Mason still manages to get you to hope for a happy ending. The trio of partygoers aren’t unlike your typical main characters from a pulpy slasher flick. They’re irreverent and funny. They want to play beer pong and make mistakes. Again, Mason is inviting you into familiar territory. He’s creating a false sense of security. You know where this is going! You already feel yourself trying to spot the final girl, but then the story swerves suddenly. The comforting pulp and schlock of a slasher film are abandoned. You feel your heart drop in your chest as you turn to the final page. Mason’s designs aren’t fun and campy, they’re truly terrifying.
Lu is the perfect thematic partner for Mason. The horror of these stories comes from normal – or even beautiful – things being twisted. It starts in “Sick” with images of a marriage. Pictures of two attractive people at the altar, smiling and in love. Each character occupies their own panel. As they lean towards each other, Lu brings their panels closer and closer together, until they’re one. The next page, this panel repeats itself but it begins to change. We see it over and over again, except now the panel feels cramped. You see the characters pull away from each other and the panel itself begins to rip. Lu’s visual language here is stunning and heartbreaking. He takes the picturesque and tarnishes it. He makes us question the visions we have for our life, as he shows how quickly it can all go to shit.
In “Party Invasion,” Lu is flat-out hilarious. We see the main character, Brittney, looking towards the hosts of the party, telling a joke. It’s 9 panels of essentially the same image, except her face is contorting as she tries to give the joke everything she has. She’s incredibly animated until the joke doesn’t land. She stands there with a half smile frozen on her face before wandering off. As “Party Invasion” also unveils its terrifying turn, it quickly becomes clear that Lu can deliver the gasps just as effectively as he can deliver the laughs.
Sick & Party Invasion is not for the faint of heart. Mason and Lu are a couple of twisted minds that are here to make you squirm. If you’re a fan of horror, this delivers on so many levels. It will pull you in with its charming characters and promises of a good time, before turning into a waking nightmare that you won’t soon forget. You can back the Kickstarter for Mason and Lu’s Sick & Party Invasion here!