Ice Cream Man is a beast unto itself. Created by W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo with colourist Chris O’Halloran and letterer Good Old Neon, the independent-yet-interconnected horror yarn stands apart from most other comics coming out of Image Comics, forgoing the benefit of a long-form, uninterrupted narrative told over many years in favour of something more novel — a mostly standalone series where any issue could truly be your first, with a faint heartbeat of a plot pulsing throughout the series, telling the story of the demented, weird cosmic creature Riccardus (the titular Ice Cream Man) and his centuries-long feud with Caleb, his nemesis.
Caleb stands for genuine goodness and hope, the belief that life is beautiful and very much worth fighting for — his mantra is "everything is one thing" after all. Riccardus, however, is stricken with a sick sense of nihilism, his own philosophy a twisted inversion of Caleb's. That life is simple and short, that we’re all just meat at the end of the day. This leads into the series’ modus operandi; each issue focuses on some poor soul that Riccardus (Rick) essentially tortures, dangling their fears and insecurities in front of them. People, according to Rick, are susceptible to bad ideas and he feels like it’s his duty to make due with what the universe gives him and slip into the cracks of their minds where he feels like he belongs.
There are some traditional elements of horror involved — ghouls, gremlins, ghosts. A couple of monsters here and there, certainly a shaggy-looking man-beast. A brain-eating vulture. But the real horror comes from the everyday problems of Rick’s victims. They’re facing what we’ve either all faced or will face: the loss of a loved one, becoming your father, or losing your memories. It’s all heightened to a sickening degree of course, but the real soul of the series is how Prince and Morazzo expertly tap into these people’s lives and leave you finishing each issue feeling like you’ve lived in someone else’s skin for 20 or so pages.
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