As Occult Detective Quarterly gets ready to release issue #3, it’s high time I did a review. I just bought ODQ #1 and #2 in print from Amazon and expect them to arrive as a Halloween treat, so I’ll be telling you more about the print versions soon.
My initial reaction to Occult Detective Quarterly is positive. This is pure pleasure reading. The writing is intelligent and spiced with dry humor. Large, satisfying chunks of prose to devour make for satisfying stories that leave the reader fulfilled. This is the magazine to grab when you want to sit by the fire for and be lost in another world.
The layout is well done. Simple and effective, the graphics balance nicely with the blocks of print. The art is fantastic and every bit as well crafted as the stories. There is a good mix of fiction and non fiction, but ODQ has won my heart by bringing back a personal passion—serialized fiction.
Coming across Joshua Reynolds’ The Occult Legion was as thrilling as opening a present to find something I actually want. The chapter two installment, Terror on the Links, is stand alone good but leaves me craving to know the beginning. Hence, I had to go to Amazon and find issue #1.
I love the witty dialogue of Carnacki in Brandon Barrow’s tale, The Arcana of the Alleys. I grew up on Sherlock Holmes, and this story has the same, meaty satisfaction. A key difference is the introduction of the occult. In Doyle’s stories, Holmes always disproved any supernatural involvement.
As a child, as much as I loved the stories, I was always disappointed by Sherlock’s ability to bring the supernatural into the daylight. Particularly in Hound of the Baskervilles I hoped he would one day meet the inexplicable.
Carnacki, on the other hand, deals with the strange and mysterious on a daily basis. His tale has all the mystery of a classic detective adventure, but he deals with two worlds instead of just one.
The idea of an “occult detective” was new to me. I admit, I tried to picture how a classic, noir gumshoe would deal with paranormal activity, but it turns out to be a surprisingly complimentary pairing—like the first time I tasted chocolate on black licorice.
Not all investigators have to be detectives, though. In The Grabber Man by Tim Waggoner, a psychologist with psychic abilities of a sort, investigates the world of Shadow as it touches his clients and himself. The story is compelling and I hope to see more of Ismael and his mismatched eyes in the future.
According to the editors, Sam Gafford and John Linwood Grant, the theme is ” those who investigate the strange, the supernatural and the occult.” This can take the form of the 50s era detective I had pictured, but there is much more potential than that. In this issue, there is a haunted Catholic girl who dispatches demons, a black investigator from 70s Harlem, and a racially intolerant detective over his head in Hong Kong.
All the stories and art are excellent, first class and professional. A genuine surprise and pleasure is the comic strips of Borkchito: Occult Doggo Detective. For me, this comic makes me do a big happy. Humorous and skewed, Borkchito is a brilliant addition to this publication full of “Ghostly borks, scary scritches, mysterious stonky smells” and spooks.
I will delve more into this new publication, Occult Detective Quarterly, when I get my Issue #1 on Halloween. Until then, it looks like you can still get both of the first issues on Amazon still.