I found House of Mystery in a charity shop, a collection of single issue comics that were affordable and seemed to have interesting covers. In the world of comics, where the back page is necessary for advertisements and there is no space (apparently) for even the most basic description of the comic, I find I lean more and more towards an interesting cover. These five comics clearly advertised a horror vibe, and I felt that I recognised something Neil Gaiman-esque in their design. That was enough for me to invest in a purchase and enjoy some of the strangest writing I’ve experienced in a comic for some time.
The House of Mystery revolves around the idea that there is a way-point for lost souls. Not necessarily dead, though also not necessarily alive, each of these persons and creatures come from their own land or dimension, often far removed from our own. The House of Mystery works as a tavern for them, a respite where they can eat and be merry, where stories and tales work as currency for their next drink. A particularly interesting trait that this comic has is that whenever a patron begins to tell their story, a completely new artist is used. This furthers the idea of world separation and allows for a truly vivid and changeable experience. The stories from these individuals can be heart wrenching or hilarious but often have an undertone of something dark and weird. These stories and patrons are not the main thrust of the House of Mystery however, as there are a small collection of people who are unable to leave this place.
Fig is an architect obsessed with drawing plans of a house she has in her head. When she is chased out of house and home by some terrifying creatures she happens upon the House of Mystery, which happens to be the exact double of the house she’s had stuck in her head for years. Instantly feeling some kind of bond with the place that she doesn’t even understand, Fig decides to try and work out what the house wants, and what she needs to offer in order to go home. The other characters who are trapped in the House of Mystery are a rag-tag bunch from different backgrounds and even different eras (there’s even a pirate wench who’s probably the most likeable of them all). They have all been trapped in this place for years, decades even, and they are all desperate to leave. One of the characters called Rina has managed to leave the house fairly early, and the story also chronicles what is happening to her as a consequence. It’s an impressively rich tale that is also delightfully strange and weird. If you are a fan of the unexpected and bizarre stories from other lands then this comic series is seriously recommended!