I first heard about Richard Sala when I was in a bookshop and I came across the book Maniac Killer Strikes Again! It immediately caught my attention — the artwork was unlike any I had seen before and it was dark, yet funny. It looked like it was a Hammer horror film, full of murder and blood and it looked fun. I bought it immediately.
Over the years, I looked into buying more and more books by Richard Sala, even as they became rarer to find. I ordered Mad Night and The Chuckling Whatsit and tried to find more, although it became more difficult. Sala was a great artist, but he didn’t care about making anything other than the things he wanted to do: books about gruesome murders in old, Victorian houses, in lonely villages filled with fog, where secret societies had their eyes everywhere and killers lurked around every corner. He drew women lounging about, about to get killed by long, thin blades wielded by homicidal maniacs, while other women chased them into alleyways, caught them in their own schemes, fought them with their own weapons, and killed them before they were killed themselves. He drew worlds of vampires and werewolves and Creatures from the Black Lagoon and he made it all look great.
Fantagraphics, which had been Sala’s publisher for a while, all the way back to Hypnotic Tales in 1992, announced his death today. He was 61. I don’t have any other words except these: the worlds he made were infinitely interesting, infinitely exciting, even as the characters were chased through cobblestone streets by maniacal killers and sword-wielding bandits. He made those worlds pop out at me, made me smile after turning every eye-popping page.
I think that has to be enough, doesn’t it?