Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, opened twice monthly to champion a book that we adore. This week Arpad recommends ‘Misty Presents The Jordi Badia Romero Collection’, out October 17 from Rebellion Publishing.

Cover to ‘Misty Presents The Jordi Badia Romero Collection’. Art: Jordi Badia Romero/Rebellion Publishing

by Arpad OkayRebellion has brought Misty, the vintage horror comic for girls, back from the vaults. The resurrection comes as a tribute to the artist Jordi Badera Romero, whose Misty entries were about curious and brave women who uncovered dark threads at the edge of reality. 

Misty is period pieces and oracle dreams. Monsters. Humor. Secrets.

What sets Misty apart is the girls in it are not only able, they’re safe. Lots of looking in the forbidden room on the school trip or dad’s a mad scientist. But the protagonists of Misty follow their curiosity, witness the bizarre, impossible, and supernatural, and walk away.

I think a comic that a kid can read to get scared with the confidence that it will be okay is a gift. Misty is a message that horror isn’t for one type of reader because horror isn’t one type of story.

As the Seventies bled into the Eighties, Misty saw less of the landlady’s daughter stumbling across a skeleton playing the piano and more young arsonists getting morbid comeuppance. But death by disco werewolf is close to Friday the 13th behavior and repercussions as it gets. Romero’s work got longer and darker.

The most on-brand Misty story is “Darkness At Noon,” in which a Roman girl travels to the future in her dreams to learn about Mt. Vesuvius. In her waking world, no one will listen about impending eruptions. Opulent costumes and locales, a girl with a secret no one believes, history, and doom. That’s Misty.

Slam that back to back with a funhouse that really kills teenagers because it’s all a game being played by gargantuan denizens of the Planet of the Apes. What keeps Little Red Riding Hood safe in the woods? How many snails is too many to keep around the house? Misty is sometimes serious and sometimes saucy, sometimes vampire exterminator, old uncle ghost, “phantom vixens,” Dracula vs. Jack the Ripper.

Romero’s art style throughout is more romantic than gruesome, balancing the sensual and macabre. Wealth and its exquisite trappings rendered with solemn splendor. Ancient vessels on the sea. Parthenon and minaret. Castle, church, and moor.

The touch taps into a broader idea of what horror is than most American shock comics. Not discovery so much as returning to a classic idea of how broad horror is. Pagan rituals of nature and justice. Moon magic. To die and be reborn as an animal that leads your killer to their doom.

Romero strikes me as a real cinephile. Misty is packed with close ups straight out of spaghetti westerns or the wide eyes of silent It girls. Shadowy screams from Argento murder movie posters. His work also has a strong air of mainstream comics that you don’t see in many of the classics. The Wolf-Man’s sister reminds me of Bill Sienkiewicz in a huge way. The fashionable kids vibe runs very New Mutants. His style of gothic is also similar to the look used years later in Sandman.

As Misty changes with the time, Romero pivots from an EC look to a 2000 AD look. Faces go from being a point aimed at the reader to a flat plane the reader has to examine. Then Romero’s style swings back, villagers with axes who are straight out of the Tales from the Crypt vaults, but the settings are done with the quiet precision, detail, and modernity of a master craftsman like P. Craig Russell.

The colors hold the charm of newsprint, with choices based on the limits of the printing process and what looks good on a page together. A pastel blue person against the lemon rind side of a house. I find the lettering oddly compelling as well, very mechanical and uses balloon and box real estate to maximum effect. Typeset dialog and funky faint colors, call it industrial nostalgia.

Misty is fun camp. A score of very silly ideas peppered with a few legitimately great ones makes for a read that will not let you down. And Jordi Badia Romero is a find. This collection sees the work of an established talent grow into the style of a unique artist. Romero took horror comics where he wanted them to go.

Rebellion Publishing / £19.99 / $24.99

Illustrated by Jordi Badia Romero.

Written by various.

‘Misty Presents The Jordi Badia Romero Collection’, hits shops October 17.

Enjoy this 6-page preview of ‘Misty Presents The Jordi Badia Romero Collection’, courtesy of Rebellion Publishing!

More Required Reading…

‘The Poe Clan’ a fairy tale heavy with gothic mystery, intrigue, hedonism

The Laphams’ cryptic, lurid, frightening ‘Lodger’ one of Black Crown’s best

Read ‘They Called Us Enemy’, a rich, complex vision where truth is paramount