For the first installment of “Off-Panel,” Nonstop Nerd’s comic book spotlight series, I wanted to touch on an indie comic that caught my attention a few years back. In 2012, an indie horror comic titled Drive-In Horror Show released and found a way to stand out from other horror comic books.
This Drive-In Horror Show comic is, or was at least meant to be, the first in an anthology series featuring various spooky stories. Written by Greg Ansin and Michael Neel, the premise showcases monsters such as vampires, zombies, and ghouls running the world and managing a drive-in movie theater where they play old-school creature-feature style horror flicks. Each comic is intended to tell a different story in the form of the monsters showing a different movie.
The series’ first issue featured the monsters purchasing their tickets and concessions to see a film titled “The Good Luck Charm.” After being introduced to our creepy host and projectionist, we see the movie play out. An older couple runs an antique shop where a mysterious man pawns a peculiar heirloom. Greed overcomes them, especially the old man who cannot keep his eye or his hands off the trinket. His greed leads him to accidentally unleash an evil from within the pawned item, which impacts their night more than they ever imagined. At a little over 40 pages, it’s longer than a standard comic book issue, but it’s worth it for the suspense-filled chilling tale.
The illustrations by Jerem Morrow and Shi Blank throughout the book are as dark and creepy as you’d imagine, but that doesn’t take away from any of the frightful fun. Each panel is clearly hand-drawn and not done digitally, as the pencil scratches are very apparent. That’s not a bad thing, however. It may look jagged and messy in some frames, but it almost adds to the unsettling feeling the creators are going for. It may not be as crisp or clean as the artwork you see in comic shops, but it plays in their favor.
One of the more interesting details about this comic is its background. Drive-In Horror Show was originally created as an indie film by the same creators, which released on DVD in 2011. The film follows the same concept of a drive-in theater being run by monsters during the apocalypse, which shows five different movies. We see each of the five horror movies as part of the larger anthology film. The creators took their fun, unique format to the comic book medium, but the host, projectionist, and other familiar faces carry over to both versions. Luckily, the comic and the film focus on different stories and you don’t need to experience one to understand the other. They each offer their own ways of portraying terrifying tales in the fun drive-in movie anthology format.
Unfortunately, there has been no sign of a second comic being released despite the creators intending on it being an anthology series. The first and only comic released eight years ago, and now there isn’t even mention of a Kickstarter for the second. I still recommend reading through issue 1; it’s just a drag that it’s all there is. It’s understandable, though. It’s something we all know can happen with indie projects paid out of pocket. It’s tough to get something like that released. Hopefully we do get to see another trip to the Drive-In Horror Show some time in the future, as there’s a lot of potential for this unique way to tell an anthology.
I received my copy of Issue 1 from the creators at a convention years ago and still have it on my shelf. I’m now unable to see where it can be purchased now, as the part of their website to do so is down. However, they do have the full comic available to read for free on their website.
Drive-In Horror Show is perfect for classic horror buffs, anyone looking for a good scare, and those looking for a quick one-shot comic book to read. Head over to their website, give it a read, and give them your support if you’d like to see more.