Book Review: The Beauty Of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book By Alan Robert
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The Beauty of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book
By Alan Robert
IDW Publishing
Release date: October 4, 2016

Life Of Agony bassist Alan Robert already made the jump to comic book creator with the 2010 miniseries Wire Hangers, and has since gone on write and illustrate other titles, such as Killogy, the IDW miniseries he created that tells the story of three murderers, one of whom has the likeness of Marky Ramone. Now, the Brooklyn native has made another successful leap in his career — to adult coloring books with The Beauty of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book.

Chances are, the average adult doesn’t think they have the time for coloring, or perhaps they believe it’s something you leave behind with childhood. But it’s known nowadays that coloring is actually quite therapeutic, and if you don’t believe me, just grab a crayon, pencil, or marker, and start coloring something in, and within minutes, you’ll experience the smoothing effects.

Thanks to this discovery and its acceptance in modern society, adult coloring books are all the rage right now, with many properties like Game Of Thrones and Doctor Who even getting in on the action. So, it’s not such a stretch that Robert would go from heavy music, to graphic comic book imagery, to an adult coloring book that depicts “the beauty of horror,” and his illustrations here do exactly that.

On this Day Of The Day (and my birthday!), I thought this would be the appropriate time to talk about the “GOREgeous” offerings in The Beauty of Horror. Unlike some recent coloring books that just give artwork to fill in, Robert provides the user with a back story for its main character, 9-year-old Ghouliana, who will haunt the pages of the book unless you help her uncover all of her treasures hidden within. So, you’d best get helpin’!

The book opens with a “This Book Belongs To…” nameplate, which will make you feel like a kid again. “EVE,” I wrote in all caps, just so everybody knows it’s mine! It then moves along to drawings of Ghouliana’s lost items that you’ll be looking for, which include such necessities as rodent skulls, machetes, and, of course, cupcakes (gotta have some sweets with your gore!). But don’t worry if you can’t find all the items. Robert doesn’t leave you out there to be forever haunted; he supplies an appendix with a key to all the hidden treasures. Phew, that was close. There’s also a few pages at the end that have framing with blank centers which you can embellish with your own original drawings, which is nice for those people (not me though) who have a little more artistic talent.

In between are about 75 or so pages of pen and ink drawings — some of which are created as 2-page spreads — with scenes of graveyards, zombies, skulls, bats, eerie carousels, and other frightening sights. But again, this book is about the beauty of horror, so it’s all done tastefully. The artwork is detailed, but not so much where it’s difficult to actually color it (an issue I had with other adult coloring books, rendering them basically useless). Since the art is fine and detailed, you’ll definitely want to use thin markers or very sharp colored pencils to do your coloring. The paper stock is good quality, and is suitable for using these implements.

Some of my favorite illustrations in the book are of the zombie mermaids, the Kraken-esque creature attacking a boat, the stained-glass windows with the undead breaking through them, and — a no-brainer for me — the skull surrounded by flowers. I liked how some of the selections involved classic horror graphics juxtaposed with more traditionally aesthetically pleasing designs, such as the one where a zombie is lying in a lovely field of sunflowers.

At times I felt like some of the art was so beautiful that I didn’t want to mess it up with my occasionally poor color choices or shaky handiwork, but abstaining would defeat the purpose of having an activity book like The Beauty of Horror — although, I could argue that just looking through it to appreciate its artwork is reason enough to own it. But, the book was created for our enjoyment, so that as adults we can relive those gleeful feelings we derived from coloring in childhood, but this time with imagery that those of us who love a mix of horror and fine art can appreciate. Plus, there are some more gruesome illustrations, such as severed heads, eyeball soup (complete with ladle!), terrifying clowns (yikes!), and melding heads straight out of a Clive Barker painting for those of you who really like the grotesque.

Just look at the full cover of the book here below – I can tell you for sure, you can judge this book by its cover! The art shown is indicative of what you’ll get to color inside. But, there’s also six preview pages you can view here below, too.

Gloriously gory, gorgeous, and therapeutic to boot, The Beauty Of Horror is a coloring book that won’t likely end up in a stack of your recyclables, but rather proudly displayed on your bookshelf.

You can find Alan Robert on Twitter at @arobert and on Facebook at facebook.com/alanrobert. He seems to truly enjoy seeing how everyone colors his drawings, so if you post your Beauty Of Horror handiwork to social media, be sure to tag him. He also makes appearances at horror and comic book conventions, where he does signings and art commissions; that is, when he’s not out on the road with Life Of Agony, who are currently working on their first studio album in 11 years, A Place Where There’s No More Pain, to be released through Napalm Records in Spring 2017.

Book Cover

Preview Pages

Book Trailer

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