Straight from the ‘get-go’ and the comic’s stunning Simon Bisley cover illustration, it must have been clear to this digital book’s readers that Bil Richardson was determined to make his “ferocious” first issue of “1000 Nightmares” better than “the old conventions of short horror”. Indeed, the creator’s droll disclaimer that he “cannot be held legally liable for any scares caused by the reading” of this twenty-five page periodical is disconcertingly well-founded as the filmmaker “delves into the darkest depth of war, religion, desperation and the meaning of life” with a series of ‘shorts’ which are as horrific as they are, at times, disturbingly amusing.
Foremost of this anthology’s tales, and arguably the most visually impressive, is “The Oracle”, whose opening splash page depicting the malformed ‘head’ of a sinisterly creepy all-powerful religion is not only truly terrifying, but actually helped the author “spark the idea for the story.” Dialogue driven, as Jon unwisely publically undermines all the new church’s fateful predictions as “baloney”, it doesn’t come as much surprise when the non-believer is soon spirited away during the night by hooded zealots and comes face to face with the very “deformed guy who spouts gibberish” he’s been maligning. What follows next however, proves a real shock, and any pity the sympathetic prisoner feels for the multi-mouthed “poor wretched soul” is soon replaced by mortal terror; “Dinner is served.”
Equally as entertaining is the desolate black & white tale, “Hard Times”, which focuses upon the perturbing hardships forced upon a farming family during a particularly harsh winter. Desperate to keep their solitary cow alive, so as to ensure their baby is supplied with a continuous stream of milk, things soon look bleak for anyone’s survival after Old Blue, the hunting dog, croaks and the “old heifer” is found frozen to death in the barn. Uncomfortably, cannibalism soon becomes the next step for those who remain, yet this comic’s writer still manages to throw in a few shocks to misstep his audience’s expectations before the situation reaches its “gruesome conclusion”.
This publication’s final story, “The Meaning Of Life”, is also noteworthy, due to its all-too brief narrative containing plenty of gallows humour concerning the philosophical outlooks of two vultures as they’re about to feast upon a mass human burial site. In fact, the two raptors depicted within this fiction, whilst clearly unexpectedly intellectual for a pair of scavenging birds of prey, are precisely the sort of carrion feeders children wouldn’t have wanted to encounter whilst enjoying the classic 1967 “Walt Disney” animated film “Jungle Book”…