Today, I’m going to look at an off branch of the horror movie genre; horror movies being developed into graphic novels, concentrating on ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street.’ Considering the popularity of the ‘Elm Street’ horror movies, it’s no surprise that the series was turned into comic book format. This has also happened with ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and the ‘Friday the 13th’ series. The ‘Elm Street’ comics were there first though.
A hoard of publishers have done ‘Nightmare’ series comics, including; Marvel Comics, Trident Comics, Innovation Publishing, Wildstorm, and Avatar Press. After the success of ‘Freddy vs. Jason’ and the remake film in 2003 of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', New Line Cinema, who own the rights to 'Nightmare', 'Chainsaw' and 'Friday the 13th'; created their "House of Horror" division, which licensed the ‘Elm Street’ franchise to Avatar Press for use in new comic stories, the first of which was published in 2005. In 2006, Avatar Press lost the license to DC Comics imprint, Wildstorm, who have since begun publishing new stories based on the films.
In 1991, Innovation comics got hold of the title, which was a good thing, because these comics were by far the best (so far) to come out of the series. Written by Andy Mangels, Innovation published three series of the comics before going bankrupt. The original series from them was brilliant, featuring lots of the protagonists from the movies, including my personal favorite, the character of Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp in the original and third film. Other characters included were Alice Johnson (who played Alice in the fourth and fifth films), Jacob Johnson (Alice’s son and Freddy’s child from film five) and Neil Gordon (the Doctor from the third film, who helped Nancy and the other characters battle Freddy).
The first two issues featured Nancy in the ‘Beautiful Dream’ world in which Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) willed her into, in the third movie. (SPOILER for Nightmare 3 – Dream Warriors) A lot of people don’t realize that after Nancy dies at the end of the third film, Kristen wishes her into ‘a beautiful dream’, and at the end of the movie when the light comes on in the popsicle house, it is in fact Nancy in the house with Doctor Gordon, who is at the time sleeping. Picking up the premise of this, Nancy acts as an opposite in the comic to Freddy Kruger; where he is the master of Nightmares, Nancy is the master of good dreams. The story revolves around Nancy’s former college room-mates who are now being attacked by Kruger in their nightmares, as he takes the role of Jack the Ripper. The artwork in these comics is great, all painted by hand. The front covers of the first two in particular are beautiful, especially the first, where there is an incredible painting of Nancy (but watch out because there is an American variant and a UK version. The portrait of Nancy is on the American graphic.)
The story surrounding the next four issues involve the characters from ‘Dream Child’ to ‘Freddy’s Dead’ and are worth a look as well, if you can get hold of them. Try looking on some online search engines. The last series by Innovation followed the events after ‘Freddy’s dead’, with his daughter being plagued by nightmares of him. Due to Innovation going bankrupt, the third comic was never printed, but can be found online.
Now, we come to 2006, and Wildstorm getting the rights to the ‘Nightmare’ series. Well known comic book writer Chuck Dixon penned the storylines, with artwork from Bob Almond, Kevin J West and Joel Gomez. Okay, these comics weren’t great (even though I bought them), they seem to have a very thin storyline running throughout. You meet several characters, but before you can get to really know them, Kruger has done away with them in some interesting and grotesque ways. They’re a bit of fun and they did get better as the series progressed, but if you’re looking for storyline, look up Innovation, because they seemed to know the characters of ‘Nightmare’ very well. Wildstorm comics have currently finished this run.
Coming in September though, is a collection of horror stories from Wildstorm; involving Freddy, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees. So check them out (I certainly will be), they might be worth a look, if you’re a fan of the movies.