Every new Josh Simmons book is a cause for immediate celebration, purchase, and queasiness. I know of no other horror comics maker whose work I find so viscerally upsetting and exciting. Even with all of the great horror artists working in comics today, people who I count among my most favorite artists—Emily Carroll, Junji Ito—Simmons is in a class all his own.
Go read stories of his like “In a Land of Magic”, or “Demonwood”, or “Cockbone” and you’ll see what I mean. There’s no vision of horror quite like Simmons’.
Black River, a tale of a group of women trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, is just as bleak and dark as you’d expect from Simmons. All of the sticky violence, transgressive sexuality, and roughness of the world you’d imagine Simmons wallowing in is here.
Despite that, I didn’t warm to Black River as quickly as I have with other comics by Simmons. Maybe my opinion will change over time. Maybe the subject is too sombre for enthusiasm. But I didn’t find this as affecting as House or much of The Furry Trap, or even Jessica Farm. Still, don’t get me wrong: It’s Josh Simmons; it’s worth every cent and every reading.