"Run-of-the-mill" seems like a modestly accurate way to describe myself in terms of horror fandom. In certain respects I find that valuable, since ideally I can make an appeal to those like myself, to those who may be testing the waters, and hopefully to the hardcore horror fans as well. (And I sincerely encourage feedback, especially from the latter.) It wasn't until several years ago, the present time of this writing being December of '09 to give perspective, that the genre genuinely appealed to me and I owe all that to the film adaptation of Stephen King's 'IT'. After that, it was a slow and steady progression that grew into watching more Stephen King film adaptations, then into watching general horror films. In more recent years it's branched from solely films into different mediums, namely: comics (comic books, manga, graphic novels, webcomics, etc.), purely written literature, and different games.

But let's get to the point, shall we? The Darkley Niche is something I've constructed after the comic-in-progress that a friend and myself plan on self-publishing, an anthology of short horror stories much in the same vein as 'Tales from the Crypt' and similar titles. The series centers around a faceless persona we've affectionately dubbed Alan Darkley, the Niche's namesake, and a cast of storytellers whose tales fall within particular subgenres and sister genres of horror. This site is the drawing board, if you will, where everything posted is either a form of research or a roughing out of ideas. It's all relevant in some fashion. By exploring these different horror stories and their mediums a better understanding and influence of the genre, as well as inspiration, can be put into the comic. Even if you have no personal interest in the project, perhaps you can glean something from the reviews and the like. And if nothing else, the Niche will work to serve my own purposes.

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Meet The Darkley Storytellers

Meet The Darkley Storytellers

About Myself

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Well, here's yours truly. The name's Drew, in case you were wondering. The Niche is my personal site, while the comic-in-progress is a partnered effort with Don, a lifelong friend of mine. We collaborate on the stories, but my partner's the writer in the outfit while I am the illustrator. This is currently little more than a side project, but we hope to make something of it.

artwork by yours truly

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Monday, December 14, 2009


On the recommendation of Nakamura's Place's Cool-slayer, a fellow artist and bigger horror buff than myself, I decided to get my hands on the direct-to-DVD film 'Splinter'. Then, while spending my evening with partner in the Darkley comic endeavor, as well as good friend, Don, we decided to give the film a watch.

The story of 'Splinter' revolves around a young couple driving out to spend their anniversary camping (which is a really bad idea, if you've seen 'Friday the 13th'), but have the bad luck of picking up a pair of hitchhikers who quickly turn out to be criminals on the run. That's what you get for trying to help out strangers. So if it wasn't bad enough having a hotheaded, escaped convict and his crazy, coke-addict girlfriend with itchy trigger fingers in the car, things go from bad to worse when they run over an animal along the road. Upon closer inspection of the roadkill, which once resembled something like a dog, it is a mass of flesh, fur, and spines. As they soon discover, the spines, or splinters, are deadly. So much as a prick and an infection begins to spread.

infection spreading from a finger to the hand

The infection can be compared somewhat to the type seen in a typical zombie outbreak story, however this seems much more malicious. A splinter acts much in the same way as a bite, only instead of being viral or chemical it's apparently a form of fungus or mold, as the husband, a medical student, can best deduce. Somewhat akin to the zombies of Russo's 'Return of the Living Dead', any infected body part is "re-animated" and, whether severed or not (think 'Idle Hands', only possessed by an infection rather than supernatural powers), act with an instinctive will of their own. But instead of wanting your brains they prefer to brutally maul and impale victims on their spines. Nakamura put it best by describing them as "sort of zombiefied, violent, bloody, walking sea-urchins".

"re-animated" severed hand

Eventually the survivors, who have holed themselves up in a gas station, realize that the infected attack instinctively by targeting heat. For those of you familiar with the 'Tremors' films, the people of Perfection Valley faced a similar dilemma with the second-stage graboid monsters, known as "shriekers", which hunt by heat. Their solution: covering a Valley survivor with the cold contents of a fire extinguisher
. The downside is that the extinguishing agent gradually melts. In 'Splinter', the survivors take a different and more realistic approach by using bags of ice to lower the husband's temperature. The downside is that it's quite dangerous to bring the human body's temperature so low. Additionally, with every extremity numb the husband can barely walk. Not a good situation to be in when your body heat is slowly rising and will soon be detectable to the infected. But that builds the suspense, which makes it all the better.

survivors watching the gas station security camera TV

So all in all, 'Splinter' makes for a good twist on an infection outbreak story with the "urchin zombies" as interesting antagonists. And considering all the crap direct-to-DVD films out there, this makes for one of the few good exceptions. I give it three-and-a-half out of five sea urchins.


  1. Hello Drew! Awesome to find you on blogger, and with an horror related blog too! I'm glad you also enjoyed Splinter, all in all I thought it was a really good little horror flick. I'll keep dropping by to see your reviews and the development of your project :)

  2. Thanks, Carla! :D Yeah, same here. I'm glad you pointed 'Splinter' out, so I could give it a watch. I hadn't heard of it before.