Who's afraid of the Ice Cream Man?

  • Issue #1: Raspberry Suprise 
  • Written by W. Maxwell Prince
  • Illustrated by Martin Morazzo
  • Colored by Chris O'Halloran
  • 2018, 32 Pages, 
  • $3.99 Digital and Single Issue
  • Comic released on January 17th, 2018

Last week Image comics debuted W. Maxell Price’s new comic Ice Cream Man. “Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, drug addiction, musical fantasy…there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery.”  This comic comes with the idea of every issue being a “one-shot” tale of speculating horror. Introducing cast of characters in what seems like a normal suburban town but between the white pickets and the twinkling chimes of his sundae van. Not everything is what it seems. The Ice Cream man the creator of our story, Is he a friend? Foe? God? Or Demon? We’re not too sure yet. Below I will be reviewing my initial thoughts on the first issue of the Ice Cream Man. This review WILL contain some spoilers! If you have not read it and if you are anywhere close to a Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks or Stephen King fan, stop what you are doing and call your local shop to see if you can grab this issue.

W. Maxwell Price is no stranger to creating good stories, One Week At The Library earned him an Eisner Award nomination this year for Best Short Story, and Ice Cream Man continues to showcase Price’s talent for creating interesting and engaging content in just a few short pages. Let us not forget Argentinian artist Mart√≠n Morazzo and colorist Chris O’Halloran are the perfect choices for this genre-bending thriller. Morazzo has worked on many comics from DC’s late online project Zuda Comics to Political thriller Pacific Great and Images Superhero project Snowfall. Martin Morazzo’s history with many thriller centered comics gives him an edge in creating an intently surreal environment that permeates the pages. Chris O’Halloran has become a name over the past several years with work on many different tiles from Star Wars to James Bond and Centipede. In Ice Cream Man you can see why! Taking normally sticky sweet gumball colors and turning them into highly contrasted but with the right amount of grit creates an ominous tone like a run down theme park, It’s creepy but not too creepy. Meddling just in the right way with Martin’s art that makes you feel like this has been a place you have been before but yet so far out of reach.

Let’s dig into this story.

A common trope in many horror novels and movies are “What if a friend, family member, or seemingly friendly neighbor holds an increasingly dark secret?”. The idea of it applying to something as innocent and child-friendly as an Ice cream man, however, is not commonly explored. Leaving this intense feeling of apprehension, does this come from the weird chubby child ordering two scoops of chocolate without his parents? is it the woman at the police station who describes a “thingamacritter” as the thing responsible for eating her dear beloved cat? A police detective who hears voices in her head? Or is it just the perfectly composed man selling ice cream?  It's all of those things and more. Ice Cream Man is a throwback to EC stories like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. As the sun sets on suburbia, the enigmatic Ice Cream Man serves up two scoops of chocolate ice cream "Lickety-split" to the aforementioned weird chubby kid. 

We soon discover that he has a unique spider for a pet, one that has rendered his parents a little more… well, I don't want to give away that just yet. As strange occurrences are reported all over town, from disappearances to monster sighting, a police investigation reveals that they have only just uncovered the tip of the ice cream cone. This throwback to the classic days of episodic horror tales in the vein of EC Comics doesn’t go for outright shocks. Instead, it leaves us feeling unsettled, instantly normalizing twisted monsters and the deadly spiders that lurk in the shadows. One of the creepiest moments of the issue is when the fate of the kid’s parents is revealed. It’s a page-stopper of a moment, but the kid barely reacts. Leaving you in a 'WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ?" suspense. 
Prince and Morazzo build a sense of dread that leaves you wondering beyond the last few pages. Even something as pure and mundane as a kid walking down the street eating an ice cream cone feels tense. You have no idea what’s going to happen because, hey, it’s just a kid eating ice cream after all, but you just watch and wait, then bam! Like a book suddenly dropped in a quiet room, you're startled, confused, and a little exhilarated. That’s how the entire book feels. You just need to see what happens next. But below the eerily entertaining surface, Ice Cream Man is about suffering. Each issue in the anthology series will tackle suffering in a different light, and explore the nature of human existence. Just like a good ice cream sundae, layers of crime, horror story, and fantasy all scooped into one story, PLUS it’s drizzled in black comedy, and THEN Prince throws in a little philosophy to top it off. It adds a nice layer to the series, giving the audience something to think about and reflect on. We don’t really get a chance to get to know the characters in this story; we never form a bond, and we never will since next issue will be a whole new story. But Prince’s story and the themes t somewhat make up for that flaw; they help us form some sort of connection to this world.
I really enjoyed this first issue and will be adding it to my subscription list. Some of the best stories are ones that briefly touch us but leave us thinking about it long after we read them,  the ones that don’t fit in any one category. Ice Cream Man is a trippy, twisted, and surreal ride into suburban horror. 

Honor is a 21-year-old from Austin, Texas. She loves geek-culture, live music, tacos, and spending time playing board games or going on adventures with her best friend. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram but please don't follow her home, that's creepy.
Who's afraid of the Ice Cream Man? Who's afraid of the Ice Cream Man? Reviewed by Honor LaBerge on Friday, January 26, 2018 Rating: 5
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