The Nightmare Factory (graphic novel) – book review

The Nightmare Factory – Fox Atomic Comics

Based on the stories of Thomas Ligotti

The Nightmare Factory really brought me back to the 1970’s, when Creepy and Eerie magazines dominated the slick horror comic scene. Contained within this graphic novel are four previously published stories, adapted and written by Stuart Moore and Joe Harris to maximize the horrific aspects of Ligotti’s work. Beautifully illustrated by Colleen Doran, Ben Templesmith, Ted McKeever and Michael Gaydos, we are treated to visual renderings of the horrible things that lurk in the darkness of Ligotti’s mind.

While TNF does a great job at delivering the horror aspects of his work, Ligotti’s stories always have a bigger meaning – social overtones, allegory connotations, and commentary – which can not be fully expressed in this format. However, the rewrites are the perfect length and contain the all of the right ingredients for this graphic novel to be engaging. I had previously read all but one of these stories so for me this was an entertaining revisit of familiar tales.

My favorite story within is the Teatro Grottesco. A conspired troupe journeys the land to drain the wills of artists and creative types, in order to transform them into the ordinary conformities of the general populous. Being a musician for much of my life, I had often seen this transformation. After not seeing a local musician for several months, I would accidentally bump into them in NYC and they would have a short haircut, be wearing a suit and be working as a manager in The Gap. It was always strange to see someone give up on their dreams and talents so completely. When I read ‘Teatro…’ I finally had an explanation.

For those who are not avid readers but are curious, this would be a great way to get introduced to the tales of Ligotti. For those who are fans already, TNF is a well crafted visual reexamination of familiar narratives. With the prices skyrocketing on all of Ligotti’s work as they become out-of-print (hardcover and paperback editions going for $60 to $300 on Amazon), this would be well worth the investment for the comic & graphic novel collector.

Must See:
Great animated trailer on for The Nightmare Factory using the artwork from its pages to animate one of the stories within: