The Lord
Hard Core Horror 1-5

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Psychotropedia (1998)

  Horror spotLord Horror: Hard Core Horror

by David Britton, Kris Guidio, John Coulthart and Michael Butterworth


DAVID BRITTON'S CONTROVERSIAL NOVEL Lord Horror take place in a parallel world where Hitler survived World War II. The title character is based loosely on Lord Haw-Haw (née William Joyce), who left Britain during WWII to broadcast Nazi propaganda from Germany. The five-part comic series Hard Core Horror acts as sort of a prequel to the novel.

Horror is drawn as an imposing, somewhat rakish figure, with high cheekbones, multiple earrings, and an explosion of hair blasting off from the very top of his otherwise shaved head. He is suave and always in control of every situation. Horror broadcasts radio diatribes against Winston Churchill and the rest of the authoritarian British government, making him Churchill's number one target.

In issue #1 Horror speaks at a Socialist rally and is almost assassinated by cops (acting under the orders of Churchill), but his brother—the famed author James Joyce—rescues him. In the next issue, he takes on the "Tick Tock Men", robot warriors that Churchill has sent against him. During this issue, the artwork has become much more detailed and electrifying. Many panels are so powerful that each one could stand alone as a work of art.

By the time we get to issue #3, the artwork has become dizzyingly powerful, standing head and shoulders above almost all other comix. Horror has been invited by Adolf Hitler to come to Germany, where he can broadcast his opinions of England without fear of reprisal. In keeping with the over-the-top manner of Hard Core Horror, Hitler is drawn wearing black leather and a swastika earring, with half his head shaved. It turns out, though, that Horror has a little problem with the Nazi mindset. When he comes across several Brownshirts beating the hell out of an old man, he slices them to ribbons with the straightrazors he carries for self-defence. When Hitler gets word that Horror has become disillusioned after seeing what Nazism is about, he almost has him killed but decides instead to send him to "a rest camp in Poland" called Auschwitz. From there, Hitler promises, Horror can continue to broadcast.

Issue #4 takes a distinctly different turn. It is composed almost entirely of full-page panels that don't seem to be telling a chronological story. Instead, they are snapshots of Horror's stay at Auschwitz. True to his word, Hitler is letting Horror do his show from the concentration camp. The artwork shows Horror broadcasting and brooding amidst the carnage of the camp. One panel shows Horror crucified with barbed wire. In another, he has split open a Nazi with his razors.

The final issue is the biggest departure of all. It consists of nothing but stark, incredibly detailed panoramic drawings of the concentration camps. Dead bodies are all around, but nothing living can be seen in the empty desolation. Blank white rectangles appear on every page. They were supposed to contain narration, but after seeing the artwork, the publishers realised that text was superfluous. The comic ends with fifteen full-page photographs of mutilated corpses.

Hard Core Horror has been banned in Britain. The British government was so horrified by the violence and human suffering (and anti-British sentiment) portrayed in the illustrations, photos, and accompanying short stories in the comic that in July 1995—following a four-year legal battle—the series was found to be obscene. However, it is still being made available in the UK, as well as the rest of the world.

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