Zodiac Of The Damned : Amy Brereton’s “Horrorscopes”

I’ve never put too much stock in astrology, myself, but for our purposes here that’s entirely immaterial : I know good art when I see it. And I know that when good art is presented within a strong conceptual framework, then you’ve got yourself the making of a really cool ‘zine. And if there’s one thing Amy Brereton’s self-published Horrorscopes is without question, it’s an exceptionally cool ‘zine indeed.

Getting the particulars out of the way first, it’s an impressive enough physical object in its own right, printed on a satin-finished heavyweight paper stock in gorgeous full color with a sturdy clear vinyl protector over its grimly gorgeous cover, the whole thing spiral-bound for ease of flipping through (it’s also signed, numbered, and dated on the back, published as it is in a limited run of 100 copies) — but “easy” isn’t a word we’ll be applying in any other context or for any other reason here, as this is clearly and obviously a labor of love on the part of Brereton and her collaborator, Psi Tallstar, all the way.

Interpreting each of the 12 signs of the zodiac through an imaginatively horrific — and, in turn, horrifying — lens is a great idea, in this critic’s humble estimation, but you’ve gotta have the chops to pull it off, and Brereton certainly has them, but the rich detail of her eyeball-searing illustration really only tells part of the story : she’s come up with pithy, and admirably sordid, descriptors to pair with each of her novel takes on the star signs, and when juxtaposed with each other the net effect is to produce a none-too-subtle exploration not only of our collective obsession with all things terrifying and grotesque, nor solely of our collective obsession (well, okay, your collective obsession) with the notion that our fates and personality traits are determined by the stars, but of the sub rosa points of convergence between both obsessions. What this says about us, then, is every bit as important as what it has to say about, say, Virgo, Sagittarius, and their most delightfully depraved manifestations.

Any linear narrative one may glean from this is purely a de facto one, to be sure, but I don’t think linearity is really the point : like the heavens (or should that be hells?) themselves, this more about coming back around, full circle, and starting over again, just as our planet does through the cosmos. If you head is spinning along the way, that’s entirely apropos as well — and it’ll only help you in terms of absorbing the full scope of demented visual delicacies on offer here. Don’t be afraid to read through it all several times in one go, and don’t be surprised if you feel the need to just to catch every nuance of illustration.

All of which is me saying that, yeah, Brereton’s sublime — dare I say luscious — art is the primary reason you’re going to want to buy this thing, but there’s plenty to do here over and above “ooh”ing and “aah”ing at some very pretty pictures. Somewhere along the way, subtly yet forcefully, you’re compelled to confront your own relationship with these subjects, to examine how their natural, yet no less unholy for that fact, union managed to exist for all this time without you consciously noticing it before. There’s a playfully sinister sensibility at work here that would — perhaps even should — be downright shocking, but it’s delivered with such a deft and clever touch that one can’t help but marvel at the obvious truths which Brereton teases out. “Gotcha” moments are cheap and easy — actual revelation is both considerably more difficult, and considerably more rewarding.

What it all means, in the end, will be up to your own intuition (and maybe even your own invocations and incantations) to determine, but know this much — you’ll be grateful for the journey no matter what. If you’ve ever felt tempted to ask the abyss “what’s your sign?,” this is the answer you’ve been waiting for.

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Horrorscopes is available for $15.00 from Amy Brereton’s bigcartel site at https://amybrereton.bigcartel.com/product/horrorscopes-zine

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative indeed if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

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