"Bedtime Games #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Nick Keller
Illustrated by Conor Nolan
Colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Lettered by John J. Hill
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on August 22nd, 2018
Owen’s life was already pretty rough before he unleashed a terrifying monster named Mr. Bedtime. His kid brother Charlie was dying of cancer and that’s enough to put a damper on any childhood. When Owen gets home to find Charlie transformed into a massive tumor, things go from sad to terrifying.
I want to make sure you understand what we’re working with in Bedtime Games #3. When I say “transformed into a massive tumor,” whatever you’re imagining in your head will not do it justice. Artist Conor Nolan has created something so revolting, it’s tough to look at for an extended period. Somewhere among all the growths, boils, and rough skin is a young boy. You can see him in there if you look hard enough, but that will require a real study of this image and it’s absolutely horrifying.
Owen and his two friends, Avery and Jamie, share a similar feeling. It’s shock with revulsion and disbelief. This is an abomination that should not exist. Now think about how you’d feel if this thing touched you. I don’t know how to describe it, but Charlie’s arm is made of a bunch of fluttering skin tags and that’s one of the most disturbing phrases I’ve ever written.
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Nolan’s artwork presents a normal, everyday world. This is what makes this tumor-shaped person so shocking. It should not be here. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen in a quaint little town like this.
This feeling extends to Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors too. Charlie’s flesh is visible, but it’s covered in dark spots and large pulsing red pustules. They’re a sickly type of red that make them look like they could burst at any moment. OK. I’ve got to move on to another topic because I’m going to throw up a little bit if I don’t.
Wait, one more thing. Just in case his appearance wasn’t enough, John J. Hill’s letters reinforce Charlie’s new monstrous image. It’s like this cancer has infected his vocal cords, making him talk in a guttural, ragged voice.
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Fortunately, Charlie’s transformation is not permanent. Mr. Bedtime has told the poor boy that he’d cure him of his disease if he helps him. That is all the more heartbreaking because this kid has suffered so much in his short life and he’s seen what this has done to his family. Getting a false hope like that is like a punch to the gut.
The story shifts to focus on Mr. Bedtime as he prepares his next moves. He is a force of nature, thriving on chaos. With all the time we spend with Avery, Owen, and Jamie, it feels a little weird to center on the monster for a bit. I wonder how it would have played out if we didn’t see him trying to get the band back together and instead had the three friends discover this on their own. As it stands, we spend time with a fourth character who was thrown in during the previous issue and we’re not invested in this guy at all.
In my review for the first issue, I pointed out how much Bedtime Games reminds me of Stephen King’s work. That is definitely still the case here, if not more so. Writer Nick Keller is crafting a story that will get under your skin. It’s a compelling and chilling tale that speaks to the curious child in all of us.