Last week, I received an email from a PR firm about a new graphic novel pitched as "What We Do In The Shadows meets Monster Squad." Of everything that came in over the transom, this one piqued my interest.
And dear reader, it did not disappoint at all.
Cereal is written by Mark Russell and illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg, and delivers pretty much exactly what it promises on the tin (read: PR pitch) — a horror pastiche that essentially amounts to a grimdark shared universe of breakfast cereal mascots. Here's the official synopsis:
The Marquis de Cocoa, recently transformed into a vampire, emerges from his castle's crypt to face a deadly ordeal: He must brave the agony of sunrise and host another of the sumptuous breakfast parties he is known for, lest the townsfolk suspect what he has become and drive a stake through his heart. Other abominations—a creature composed of cadaver parts, a specter, a lycanthrope, a leprechaun—arise to threaten dangers of their own in this epic comedy of terror and tragedy.
Count Chocula teaming up with BooBerry and the Lucky Charms leprechaun to wage an epic European historical battle against General Post and General Mills and their cronies like the wretched Captain Crunch? It's ridiculous. And yet, for roughly 120 pages, Russell and Snejbjerg commit themselves completely to the gag. They imbue every single one of these characters — cartoonish cereal mascots! — with some genuine pathos. Yes, there are visual gags and wordplay a-plenty. But at its core, Cereal is an earnest, heartbreaking drama of intercontinental love and war. With monsters. And a whole lot of breakfast.
Which, honestly, isn't that different from normal European history.
Do I feel a little ridiculous telling you that a horror comic about pastiches of breakfast cereal mascots is a genuine page-turner? Oh yeah. Do I have any regrets about consuming this book in a single sitting over the weekend? Absolutely not. It delivers exactly what it promises on the box: a delightfully chilling horror story full of heart and blood and gore, inspired by your favorite icons of breakfast.
If that's not convincing enough, here's a, erm, taste of Cereal:
Cereal [Mark Russell & Peter Snejbjerg / Ahoy Comics]