Introduction by Paul Tremblay; Afterword by Ted Adams
Diablo House is a four-issue comic book miniseries that IDW Publishing released in the middle of 2017. Diablo House is created by writer Ted Adams (the CEO of IDW Media Holdings) and Spanish comic book artist, Santipérez. IDW recently published a collected edition of Diablo House as a full color, trade paperback.
Diablo House is set in and around La Jolla, California, specifically the Diablo House. It is a place where your dreams come true, if you dare sign on the dotted line. Surf bum, Riley, invites us into Diablo Home, which is his home, and shares stories of people who fulfilled their desires. Four of them: RC, a fast food magnate; Lex Dillon, a pinball wizard and budding cult leader; Señor Diablo, a stage magician and local TV station horror movie host; and Harry Anderson, a car racer who is always losing to his best friend, will chase their desires at the cost of everything else, including the lives of their family and friends.
THE LOWDOWN: In an afterword, Ted Adams writes that he wanted to create a modern comic book that recalled classic horror comic books, especially the DC Comics horror titles of the late 1960s and 1970s, which included House of Secrets and such Joe Orlando-edited titles as House of Mystery, Swamp Thing, and The Witching Hour. Of the artists whose work appears in those comic books, Adams seems most impressed by the art of Mike Kaluta and of the late Bernie Wrightson.
In Santipérez, Adams not only has a style that recalls Wrightson and Kaluta, but also has a storytelling sensibility that is firmly rooted in the graphics of 1960s and 1970s horror comic books. The Spanish artist has a flare for Antoni Gaudi (1852 to 1926), the Spanish architect from Catalonia, known for his highly-individual style that encompasses neo-Gothic art, Oriental techniques, and nature. Diablo House resembles Gaudi's Casa Batllo.
Santipérez is the star here. The story, “Fast Cars and a Faster Girl” is a tour de force of battle footage and race car sequences that are as unexpected as they are stunning. The relatively unknown Santipérez cannot be so good, but he is as delivers several visually striking illustrations, such as the last two pages of the first story. Thus, the Diablo House trade paperback is practically a Santipérez art book. In fact, there is a 21-page sketchbook section at the back of this trade paperback that feature Santipérez luscious pencil illustrations and preparatory art for Diablo House.
I enjoyed reading this Diablo House trade, but the stories could be better. The opening tale, “There is More Than One Way to Fry a Fish” is poignant and has a shock ending that is good as many endings to episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” “Fast Cars and a Faster Girl” is wonderfully drawn, but should be longer; Ted Adams does not play up the drama and depth of the lead characters' relationship. The other two stories each have a good premise, but each one is underdeveloped in some way.
This volume has some nice bonus stories, but they do nothing to eclipse the fact that Santipérez is the star. Colorist Jay Fotos is a good co-star, as his colors over Santipérez's art allow the illustrations to fully convey the dreamlike and nightmarish quality of the storytelling. Ted Adams has something good here, and it could get better... if there is a second Diablo House miniseries. Diablo House probably wants us to visit again.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of classic American horror comic books from the 1960s/70s will want to enter Diablo House (without signing anything.)