Stephen Bissette’s horror anthology, Taboo (published from 1988-1995), masterfully captures the atmosphere of this time of year. With contributions from such notable writers and artists as Dave Sim, Charles Burns, Tom Sniegoski, Charles Vess, Bernie Mireault, Keith Giffen, Chester Brown, Eddie Campbell, Moebius, Melinda Gebbie, Neil Gaiman, Michael Zulli, Alan Moore, and Bissette himself, every issue of this series reaches for – and often achieves – an incredibly high standard of graphic storytelling.
From Hell and Lost Girls both had their starts in this anthology. Readers also experienced the fleeting glimpse of Gaiman & Zulli’s Sweeney Todd (with the prologue found in issue 7), which never found another publisher once Taboo ceased publication. Spain Rodriguez’s succinct retelling of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cult film classic El Topo can be found within the pages of this book. (issue 4, to be exact). And there is any other number of horror masterpieces to be found within various issues of this landmark series.
The offerings in Taboo are not what one would describe as typical horror comics. These stories are disturbing, uncomfortable, demanding pieces of art. They are the horrors that keep one up at night, staring into the blackness to identify the sound that startled you awake. These stories are creepy, and the slimy film of the narratives is hard to wash off, staying with you long after the book is closed.
If you’re a fan of “shock” horror and want to be scared – Taboo might not be the book for you. But if you like your fiction challenging, if you want to read stories that make you think, and if you appreciate that anxious flutter in the pit of your stomach when the clock strikes midnight, then you should be seeking these books out because they are becoming harder and harder to find.
The stories found in this seminal anthology are a fitting capstone to a crisp, cool October day.