Steve Taylor-Bryant gets the opportunity to read a comic from his favourite writer as Monty Nero’s Hollow Monsters nears release...
You can read Steve's recent interview with Monty Nero here.
There is something wonderful about social media. You can surround in a bubble of like-minded folk if you need to, getting others to tell you that your opinions are valid, or you can reach out to people you don’t know and learn something, get wrapped up in the creative pursuits of others. This is how I came to know the tour de force that is Monty Nero. Through falling in love with his very first issue of Death Sentence, back when times were different and the political elements of that story seemed far-fetched, to the present day, I have found Monty to be passionate about his craft, immensely supportive of others and just a genuinely nice guy. A genuinely nice guy that can investigate society, find the worst in humanity, and somehow make that entertaining. Hollow Monsters was exciting for me, a project I backed with my own money on Kickstarter, because whilst I love Monty Nero’s storytelling I had only really seen a couple of examples of his artwork, and they were covers. Could his own art tell his incredible story? Yes. Yes, it could, and it does so well.
This time Monty Nero takes us back to a period of history that younger readers may not remember, and some of us remember all too well. In Monty’s own words "Hollow Monsters is set in the eighties, it concerns horrors real and imagined lurking in a suburban forest frequented by a gang of kids from a nearby estate, and how what happens there echoes through the decades with disturbing effect. It’s a very personal and spooky semi-autobiographical story: an unsettling commentary on the nightmares at the heart of society, and how lives are shaped by them over time."
I am a child of the 80’s, I grew up with Reagan, I grew up with Thatcher, I remember the Miners strike, the political knife’s edge we were on during that final decade or so of the Cold War. I remember that life wasn’t roses and chocolate, it was hard, it was upsetting, at least for my parents. I remember the Rubik cube, I remember my pop-culture, I remember using a bomb crater as a BMX ramp, my parents remember the terror of the explosion. It was a tough decade to grow up in and rarely does storytelling manage to cover the emotions of both child and adult, whilst telling a complex tale, and doing it beautifully.
From its iconic 80’s cover with the James Bond Lotus, references to the Multi Coloured Swapshop, the BBC Test Card that made up a lot of our television time as kids, to its set up of a story that will run for six issues Hollow Monsters is a comic like I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen it said on social media that, with Hollow Monsters, Monty has changed the way we read comics. To be honest I’m fairly new to comics and so I don’t really understand how we read comics before this. I have no ingrained structure to reading, I’m no expert in comic narrative, but I am an exponent of the ‘like stuff’ form of reading, and I really like Hollow Monsters. There is something elegant about it, something old fashioned yet new. And do read it more than once! There is some sneakiness hidden within the artwork, maybe it's not supposed to be hidden but it's something I only saw in my peripheral vision first time through, there is something quite gorgeous in the horrific, and there is a bonanza of eighties loveliness in a story that hits home rather well. Oh, and my town of Weston–super–Mare gets a mention, always nice to be included in something that doesn’t start with the word ‘Crime’.
The version I read here (three times) is the digital deluxe version I was awarded for giving Monty all my children’s inheritance, and it contains all his secrets at the end of the first issue in the form of his concept work and the initial ideas and he executed what he needed to do to complete issue #1. Here you learn all the techniques and reasoning that I really wish I understood fully, if not only to enjoy more levels of genius within the comic then to make my reviews make more sense, and if you are a creator, want to be a creator, or just have a mere interest in creating comics then these pages are a must read. This is literally a man who knows what he’s on about in this medium helping you to be as good as he is and all for the price of a comic! Keep your eyes peeled on April 20th when the crowdfunding begins for issue #2.
Follow Steve on Twitter @STBWrites
Image - Monty Nero