I’m not asked to write for Geekade very often. Besides being busy with a lot of the wrench work and editing a fair chunk of video and audio content on the site, it’s difficult to get inspired with so much running through my head. For “31 Days of Halloween” however, I decided to put most of the other things aside for a bit so I could contribute an article. Last year we did scary movie picks which was great, but I think our “scariest moment” series has been even better. We’ve had a lot of really cool stuff come across the site so far. Some video game moments, cool music, scary movie recommendations and more.
I was having some trouble writing this because scary moments are few and far between in my life. In our culture, scary movies are a dime a dozen and most good ones just don’t really do it as far as straight fear is concerned for me anymore. I pondered for a while on what to do and must have rewritten this article about four times. (At least I got some practice in!) On the fifth try I felt like I was in that “Spongebob Squarepants” episode where his driving school instructor asks him to write a paper on what he learned in boating school that year and all he could write down was “What I learned in boating school is…”. I figured for a change of pace, I’d look at our wonderful website “Geekade” and peruse through some of the new stuff while questioning my skills as a writer.
I came upon an article by a gentleman named Johnathan Fugger. I call him the Fuggernaut and I would recommend everyone to do it too as it’s pretty much the best nick name you could ever have. John writes our “Welcome to the D-List” article series and records a monthly Podcast called “Mutant Musings”, both comic inspired. I wasn’t at all surprised when I saw his “31 Days of Halloween” article was comic related, but it didn’t have to do with shitty super heroes or the X-Men. No, John decided to talk about a comic called “Wraith”.
There were two reasons this caught my eye. Firstly, this book is graphic as all hell thanks to the amazing art work of my arch nemesis, (in my head anyway) Charles Paul Wilson III. Secondly, Wraith is based on a book “N0S4A2” by Joe Hill. For those of you who read and think that author might sound familiar, it probably should, especially if you read horror. Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, so right there this should already have you interested, but even without the lineage, he’s an incredibly talented writer. After reading through Johnathan’s article about Wraith, I knew there was only one thing to do: Write about the incredibly twisted book that inspired it which did something that nothing really does anymore, scared me.
“N0S4A2” is like this really insane mash-up between “Christine” and “It”. Without giving too much away, the title of the book refers to the license plate of the antagonist’s car, pronounced “Nosferatu” (pretty damn cool license plate). The car can suck the life out of children and bestow it upon the owner who uses this as energy to restore his own body and open up a portal to a place called Christmasland where these undead children can live out the rest of their lives….changed.
What makes this book so damn terrifying is that it oozes with dread on every page. What this car can do to these children is a slow and horrifying process and Joe Hill makes sure to describe it in excruciating detail. I remember reading this book 3 or 4 nights in a row and then I got to a moment where I was afraid to turn the page and had to put the book down for a little. It would have been easy for Hill to describe a lot of the blood and gore in this book and gross you out, but he doesn’t do that unless it has a point. He finds a much more effective way of making you terrified and that’s describing the slow methodical break down of some of the character’s minds in this book. A lot of these moments reminded me of Jeff Goldblum’s character in David Chronenburg’s The Fly. The characters were terrified at first at what was happening to them but eventually succumbed to their afflictions and just became fascinated and delighted about what they were turning into, which still makes my skin crawl as I’m writing this. Imagine being trapped somewhere helpless, and being twisted into something otherworldly against your will. You’re trying to fight with everything you have but it just seems hopeless as you go further and further away from feeling like yourself. That’s freaking terrifying. At the end of the day when you strip everything thing away, all we really have is our identity and to take that away from some one is unfathomable.
Besides being spine-chilling, the book is just so well written it’s hard to put down. You’re automatically drawn to the characters who are all so different, and when Hill puts you in their heads, it’s incredibly hard not to become enthralled by them. The main character and protagonist, Victoria McQueen, is so flawed and broken, but in spite of all that you just want to see her succeed, and it’s heart-wrenching at points to read about what she’s going through.
By the time I was at the end of the book, I was frantically flipping each page, hanging on every word. Even toward the final moments you still think anything could happen. That’s what I call good writing. “The King of Horror Writing” has an heir to the throne, and his name is Joe Hill. If you want to be thoroughly creeped out to put you in the Halloween spirit, look no further than “N0S4A2”. You won’t regret it.
Dean DeFalco is a co-founder of Geekade.com, and can be heard every week on the Paper Cuts Comic Podcast.