“Anomaly” by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin (Anomaly Publishing, 2012)


Years spent in the making, Anomaly is a marvel of the graphic novel genre from Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin, using a combination of giant, vibrant pages bursting with detail and color, a riveting storyline, multiple fold out sections showing actions scenes and magnificent tableaux.  And there’s even a smartphone or tablet app to heighten the experience.

The year is the distant future, 3717.  Our world has taken to the stars and conquered them.  All nations, corporations and technologies have coalescent into an entity known as the CONGLOMERATE, which uses Enforcer Battalions to conquer alien races and planets to reap their wealth.  Jon has been discharged from the elite Enforcer Corps and jumps at the chance to be part of a first contact mission, along with Samantha, Jasson and others.  But on the planet of Anomaly everything can and does go wrong, stranding the group there.  They find themselves in the midst of a great war between good and evil.

The artwork is breathtaking, the color and detail engrossing, the design and actions scenes pull you in and never let you go.  The slightly weak point is the storyline, which becomes somewhat predictable.  But there is still a great big cast of interesting characters, albeit with stereotypical diversity.

Readers also get the opportunity to use the app on their smartphone or tablet that is used to scan certain pages during the reading of Anomaly and pops up a 3D image of the scene of a creature or character, showing them acting and reacting.  They can be poked and prodded like the seemingly holo-specimens they are, as well as opening up info files on them.  It’s a fun experience that really feels like something out of science fiction.  Overall, Anomaly is well worth the read; a most enjoyable experience, and one not soon to be forgotten.

Originally written on February 11, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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Bookbanter Column: Remembering James Herbert

There are probably not too many people familiar with James Herbert, who was the equivalent of Stephen King in Britain: a huge bestselling horror author.  He started from simple beginnings, as many writers do: he studied graphic design, print and photography and then worked at an advertising agency.

Then, in the early seventies, in just ten months, he wrote his first book, called The Rats.

The Rats is a horror novel set in London that brilliantly catches the feeling of the city at that time in the early part of the decade, and is about very ordinary people with very ordinary lives.

But then a new mutant form of rat evolves that grows to be the size of some small dogs. And these rats soon develop a hunger for human flesh and begin their attack on London, mercilessly killing.

It’s up to the people of London — at least those still alive who haven’t fled — to save the city and its survivors from these terrifying, giant, blood-thirsty rats.

The short novel sold 100,000 copies in three weeks and was later adapted into a movie. It would go on to be one of Herbert’s bestselling and most known books, much like with Stephen King and his debut novel (also short), Carrie.

Herbert wrote twenty-three novels over his career and sold fifty-four million copies around the world.

Herbert’s talents as a horror writer were in that he wrote about the things that terrify many people, or even things that are mildly scary that he turned into something horrifying. Some of these books include The Dark, which was literally about an approaching darkness that could kill you; and The Fog. 

Again, there is another similarity with Stephen King, who wrote the short story The Mist. And much like Stephen King, James Herbert would always use ordinary, non-superhero people with normal jobs in a setting and story that would push them to go way beyond their average lives.

Herbert also had a talent for the ghost story and the tale of the haunted house. A number of his novels were on this subject, including: Haunted, The Ghost’s of Sleath, Others, The Secret of Crickley Hall, and his last published novel, Ash, featuring a returning parapsychologist character of the same name.

Occasionally, Herbert would try something completely different, like he did with Fluke, a book written entirely from the perspective of a dog.

Of course, with the continuing success of The Rats, he would also go on to write two sequels: The Lair, which brings new untold horrors of giant killer rats, this time going outside of London; and Domain, set in a future London where there has been nuclear war, and some people have survived, as well as the aforementioned giant killer rats.

Now, with his passing on March 20, 2013, the world has lost a great storyteller, who could take you to the edge of the darkness and beyond, but then bring you back at the end, nice and safe. Though, as is the case these days with prominent authors dying, I’m sure he has another book or two sitting around that he wrote earlier in his career, or was currently working on that will get completed by someone, and eventually published.

Originally published on Forces of Geek.