Whatever Happened to Baron von Shock?

16 Sep

 Rob Zombie is known for many things. First and foremost, he is a heavyweight in the world of rock music. If you listen to any of his albums or watch his music videos, his passion for all things horror becomes obvious – if his name wasn’t enough already. Many of his songs feature excerpts from or references to classic films. So, a venture into moviemaking seemed like a natural progression for Zombie. His early projects, House of a Thousand Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, generated a hefty cult following. His decision to remake the seminal Halloween series was met with both glee and grumbles of its imminent failure. I’m yet to see it for myself – having switched it off after ten minutes due to a serious case of the wiggins – but even within my circle there’s drastic differences of opinion. So, what else is on his already impressive resumé? Rob Zombie: comic book writer, of course. Having already penned ‘Spookshow International’ and ‘The Haunted World of El Superbeasto’, among others, this wasn’t unchartered territory for the heavy metal giant. His latest series is the rather intriguingly titled ‘Whatever Happened to Baron von Shock?’.

The story follows the title’s namesake, a.k.a. Leon Stokes, on his rise to and fall from fame in the callous world of Hollywood. He begins as a simple nobody working at a television station. When their resident horror host, Uncle Spooky, quits and leaves the station in the lurch it’s left up to Stokes to take over. Enter Baron von Shock.

Volume one tells the story of his ascension to stardom, all the while being narrated by his future self. We know this story isn’t going to end well, he told us so ourselves – it’s even in the forboding title. But also, this is just how things go in La-La Land. It builds you up and offers you everything on a silver platter, the world is at your feet. Before you can order a second round of Cristal you’re yesterday’s news. Zombie has said that this recurring event of Hollywood taking in bright-eyed hopefuls and leaving them jaded and forgotten was very much his inspiration behind Baron. And we’re taken along for the whole debauched ride with Stokes. It’s like a wonderful train wreck.

In the second volume, it’s all gone terribly wrong. Here lies Baron von Shock’s career. We’re skipped ahead a lot in the story, over the years of his regretful and miserable life, to bring us to an old, washed up Stokes. Some horrific news reaches him which he wants to set about fixing. There’s some old friends as well as new in this issue, and some comedic torment from his mother.

The series oozes Zombie. There’s horror, sex, drugs, shock’n’roll – and strippers’o’plenty. Donny Hadiwidjaja is the man behind the artwork and he does a mervellous job documenting the tragic events of poor Stokes’ life. The comic is very colourful for such a dark story. It adds to the unreal feeling of what we’re reading. As for the writing, the dialogue is witty and suited to each character very well. They all feel quite real, except for Stokes’ alter-ego who is more suited to the fantasy we’d expect from Zombie. The change from one to the other in volume one was interesting to see. The Baron appears to have come out of nowhere once the camera started rolling. Plus, he’s pretty cool. I mean, who wouldn’t want a nifty catchphrase like “Shock it to me!”?

If you’re a fan of Zombie or any of the crazed antics I’ve mentioned above, this may be a comic worth checking out.

Volume 3 is now available to buy.

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