Bitcoin Dreadfuls - A Review of Modern Dread, compiled by Ryan Fassett and Pat Shand

Written by O'Brian Gunn

Modern Dread (2018), cover by Mike Capprotti.

While I’m not the biggest horror fan, I do enjoy being creeped out and horrified in a way that clings to me and slithers over my skin for days to come, leaving me looking over my shoulder and calling on Jesus like my mama taught me. I’ve never read a horror comic before, but Modern Dread is certainly a solid introduction. Created by a variety of artists and writers, including Ryan Fassett and Pat Shand, Modern Dread is a modern graphic novelette take on Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Originally a Kickstarter project, Modern Dread taps into current-day anxieties and fears to give readers something new to lose sleep over. You know, other than worrying if you have enough in savings to cover a medical emergency, if you’ll ever find someone who truly understands you, and how HBO plans on wrapping up Game of Thrones. The result is seven vignettes that explore everything from demonic tattoos to internet trolls who invade our homes. The stories are told by five friends (and one houseguest) who gather for a classic horror movie night but end up sharing their own original horror stories.

A horrific wake-up call. A page from Alone At Night by Ryan Fassett & Chandra Free.

Besides tattoos and internet trolls, Modern Dread also explores the risks of using ridesharing services that extend beyond assault and having a horrible driver. A story titled “What You Need” explores the sometimes-thin line between harmful, addictive drugs that can lead to regret and medication that can help us live our best lives. Just as some classic horror movies have held up rather well by focusing on universal themes and eternal anxieties, I have a feeling the tales in this particular anthology will stand the test of time for quite a while, tapping into dread that’s likely to linger with the human race for decades to come. I’m already thinking about future horror stories involving robots/androids programmed by disabled serial killers and bionic limbs infected with techno viral-demons.

I really enjoyed how Pat and Ryan nailed modern vernacular in the continuing narrative between stories. Even though I truly dig the deep, opulent dialogue in shows like Penny Dreadful and Hannibal, I also appreciate writers who give us characters who speak like someone we might interact with on the street, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. I also liked how each story had a different artist, something I felt was a great way to get inside each storyteller’s head and experience the story from her unique perspective.

Car trouble. A page from Caught On the Web by Ryan Lynch & Fabio Ramacci.

I will say that not all the stories were direct hits for me. There were moments when I felt the narrative territory had been explored time and time again and didn’t give me anything new to chew on. That said, I do feel a majority of the stories delivered on the thrills and chills.

Don’t feed the trolls. A page from The Comments Section by Katie Tuohy, Pat Shand, & Olivia Pelaez.

Even though Modern Dread is a quick read (hence the short review), it gives you a lot to think about and explore long after you’ve finished. Whether all that contemplating is good or bad is entirely up to you. While focusing on the positive is great for your mental health, it’s sometimes nice to look down at the old demons we’ve risen above. Let’s just hope they haven’t made any new friends and grown wings while we weren’t looking.

Page Length: 72 pgs 

Recommend Buy New, Buy Used/On Sale, or Skip: Buy new...if you dare

Alias (2001) #23, cover by David Mack.

Next Up: Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis, the story of Marvel one-time-superhero turned-detective, Jessica Jones. It’s got purple men, high school drama, and dates with an Avenger. How does the Netflix show stack up to the original work? Find out next month!