Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, where each week one of our contributors goes crazy over a book they just can’t seem to get enough of. Intrigued to find something new? Seeking validation for your secret passions? Required Reading gets you.
By Arpad Okay. Slice is a love letter to slasher films with extra cheese. Dave Scheidt and Aaron Pittman find ways to match the mood of the classics while doing things their own way. Our listless hero is more interested in finishing a stack of comic books than exploring his new small town home, but it isn’t Batman in his hands — it’s Love and Rockets. A weapon for slaughter isn’t a cleaver, a chainsaw, or even an axe; it’s a pizza wheel, but it still delivers the deadly. Sleepy summer town. Parental strife. Partying teenagers. Lots of blood and an overall body count, but no gore, no severity you’d find in modern horror films. No clownish masks or clockwork mazes or torture. Slice is old school. This is a Trapper Keeper full of everything you love about Chopping Mall and Halloween and Evil Dead 2 with a winking pizza sticker slapped on the front.
Slice swaps the disquiet that comes with exposed innards for a mounting tension created by delaying the violence. There’s drugs, there’s a house party — all harbingers of doom in the slasher world — but the Nice Slice killer waits, and we wait with him, poised, ready for the inevitable hammer to fall upon these freaked-out youths.
Scheidt and Pittman get it all right. They’ve got pizza and punks, a historic pairing, and what follows both? Partying and jagoffs. Slice maintains its uniqueness despite its regular hat tips to conventional horror. An overlap of the real and the legendary lends authenticity to the characters and dialog, even when it becomes so self-aware it ribs itself. Once the horror ball really starts to roll, its conventions become surreal instead of campy. Dead bodies, blood and toppings lie everywhere, and our hero wonders what does this dude have against pizza? And once again absurdity outpaces atrocity.
Slice is the best episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that never aired. Like finding a VHS you’ve never heard of in the bargain bin, it turns out to be non-ironically fantastic as well as a total product of its time. If monsters and mayhem are how you get your kicks, Slice is going to leave you beaming.
A big piece of what makes Slice so refreshing is its format. It was created for Stēla, an app and subscription service that runs creator-owned comics written specifically for smartphones and tablets. Each installment is told in one long column, a fixed width of a single panel, one stacked on top of the next, a story you scroll through like anything else in your feed. But that work you put into it, swiping your way further and further down into the story, heightens the anticipation (and dread) for what’s to come. Physically turning the comics page is now as visceral as sitting in the dark of the movies.
Slasher flicks have never felt quite like this. Slice takes a new way of doing things and runs with it. Again, full of murders and darkness, but a fun read and a lot of fun to read. If you are curious, Slice is a great place to bear witness to what’s next for comics.
Written by Dave Scheidt.
Illustrated by Aaron Pittman.
Lettered by Nate Piekos.
Edited by Jim Gibbons.