Hey there, fear fanatics! 🦈
It’s still Shark Week! And in honor of this fin-tastic celebration, I’ve dug up a little comic book reading recommendation that’s bound to make waves in your horror-loving hearts. Allow me to introduce you to the unholy terror that lurks in the deepest, darkest depths of Image Comics: Ryan Ottley’s 2016 masterpiece “GrizzlyShark.”
Now, you might be wondering, “GrizzlyShark? Is that some kind of twisted lovechild of Jaws and The Revenant?” Well, you’re not far off. This horror comic takes the entertainment factor to a whole new level, mixing the savagery of the bloodiest animal horror fare you’ve ever experienced with the hilarity of the best slapstick comedy out there. It’s also a scathing critique of yuppies, millennials, hikers, country folk, campers and, more generally, human stupidity. Small wonder that it’s one of my favorite shark-themed comics. But what are the origins of this title?
Ryan Ottley, known for his jaw-dropping and violently bloody artwork on the Image Comics series ‘Invincible‘ with writer Robert Kirkman, first conceived of this ridiculous but fun concept with fellow artists Jason Howard. Their simple premise: what if a murderous bear and a ravenous shark got mixed up? What if the shark became a landlocked killing machine, and the bear an aquatic nightmare?
This wacky What If? led to Ottley and Howard putting out a black and white one-shot called ‘Seabear and Grizzlyshark’ in 2010, which became a cult hit. Ottley then pitched a three-issue fully-colored Grizzlyshark series to Image in 2015, and that saw print the following year. This is the series that we’ll be discussing today!
So, as we sink our teeth into all things shark-related this week, why not take a bloody plunge into the weird and wild world of “GrizzlyShark?” It’s a gruesome, thrilling ride that’s perfect for the occasion, and The Longbox of Darkness is here to be your tour guide through the chaos. We’ve tried to avoid spoilers wherever possible, as the issues are full of twists, turns, and shocking surprises. So what are you waiting for? Let’s take the plunge into those deep, dark, shark-infested woods…
Breakdown: The Plot
Issue #1: “Grizzlyshark!”
Deep within the shadowy recesses of dense woodlands, a mystery unfolds that’s as terrifying as it is bizarre. Farmer Pete and his headstrong son Donnie set out on a quest, armed and determined to uncover what’s been devouring their cattle. Pete’s far-fetched theory of shark bites in the forest earns nothing but scoffs from Donnie – until the unimaginable happens.
As they anxiously await their fellow hunters, the forest comes alive with terror. A monstrosity emerges – a gigantic shark that prowls the woodland, lunging at them and claiming Donnie’s lower half as a grisly appetizer. With quick thinking and a shotgun blast, Pete wounds the creature and saves his son’s life, using the heat of their campfire to cauterize the horrifying wound.
But the nightmare is far from over. Enter Johnbob and Uncle Carl, two rustic kin to Pete and Donnie, who are eager to join the hunt. Little do they know, the arboreal shark has a taste for human flesh and isn’t done feasting.
When the shark strikes again, chaos ensues, and plans are shredded like so much prey. When the blood and terror settle, only Donnie and Johnbob are left standing. The others have met a gruesome end, reduced to mere chum for the insatiable GrizzlyShark.
Issue #2: “Grizzlyshark Returns!”
The terror in the woods escalates in the second nail-biting installment! As more of these land-dwelling monstrosities prowl the forest, no one is safe. Hikers, honeymooners, campers – all find themselves on the Grizzlysharks’ gruesome menu.
In the midst of this relentless carnage, Donnie and Johnbob, still reeling from their nightmarish encounter, are fortuitously picked up by Dr. Lorraine and her rugged Cowboy driver, Kyle. Dr. Lorraine, it turns out, has been on the trail of this phenomenon, researching these unthinkable land sharks and their sinister infestation of the woods.
But the Grizzlysharks are never far away, and another bloody encounter ensues. Kyle’s fate is sealed in a spray of gore, leaving Dr. Lorraine, Johnbob, and Donnie to form an unlikely alliance. They are now the self-proclaimed ‘Sharkbusters,’ resolved to trap and study one of these enigmatic beasts.
The horror doesn’t stop there, as the woods become a veritable buffet for the Grizzlysharks. Mountain climbers, bus passengers, cyclists – all are prey to these relentless predators, their lives snuffed out in horrific detail.
Tragedy strikes our ‘Sharkbusters’ as well, but amid the bloodshed, they find an unexpected addition to their ranks: a cannibal baby! Yep, you read that right. Together, they press on, driven by a mix of scientific curiosity, survival instinct, and a thirst for revenge.
Issue #3: “Grizzlyshark VS Seabear!”
The thrilling conclusion of “GrizzlyShark” is here, and it’s a jaw-dropping battle for survival that you won’t soon forget. Donnie, Johnbob, and their unlikely ally – the aforementioned cannibalistic infant – are locked in an all-out war against a horde of Grizzlysharks. The odds are grim, and defeat seems inevitable.
Just when all hope seems lost, a twist of fate brings a surprising ally into the fray. Rising from the depths of legend, the Grizzlysharks’ ancient adversary, The SEABEAR emerges, ready to turn the tide of battle. With a ferocious roar, The Seabear dives into action, engaging in a no-holds-barred battle with the Grizzlyshark Alpha, the craftiest and most formidable of the Grizzlysharks.
This wild finale to “GrizzlyShark” is filled with unexpected twists, heart-pounding action, and a dash of dark humor. The happy ending is hard-fought and well-earned, leaving readers with a satisfying conclusion to a tale that’s been as bizarre as it’s been exhilarating.
Breakdown: The Art
What can be said of Ryan Ottley’s art? If you are at all familiar with his work on ‘Invincible,’ then you know how viscerally bloody he can get. In spite of the gratuitous but weird violence he depicts, his art is often strikingly nuanced and filled with sly details that make each of his characters a joy to behold, no matter their cartoonish physical deformity.
The following two images really say it all when it comes to assessing Ryan’s penciling skills. And before I forget, a big shout out to his partner in crime here, Mr. Ivan Plascencia, who killed it on the colors.
What Makes This Series Great
Really, what makes this an unbelievably fun read are the following six elements (I’ll leave out the obvious ones – the story and plot – which we covered above):
1. The Humor
It’s dark but delightful!
2. The Wacky Characters
A Shark Exterminator with an addiction to Cinnamon Flavor Ice Cream, and Donnie the Torso. ‘Nuff said!
3. The Horrifically Original Kills
Here’s just a small ‘taste’ 😉
4. The Bear versus Shark beach brawl
It’s fins against brawn!
5. The Weird Pop Culture References
This enemy is beyond any of you!
6. The Cannibal Baby
This little tyke is just a bundle of delight!
And there you have it, horror fans – a wild, gruesome, and utterly enthralling journey through “GrizzlyShark.” From blood-soaked woods to unexpected alliances, this series has taken us on a rollercoaster ride with all the required thrills and chills. Whether it’s the sheer terror of the Grizzlysharks or the dark humor sprinkled throughout, there’s no denying that this comic has left its bloodstained mark on the landscape of horror comics.
So, what did you think, fear friends? Are you Team Grizzlyshark or Team Seabear? What were your favorite moments, and what left you gasping in horror or laughing in disbelief? We want to hear from you!
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Leave your thoughts, theories, and shrieks of terror in the comments below, and let’s keep the conversation alive and the nightmares fresh. Stay spooky, dear readers, and until next time, beware of what lurks, or swims, in those woods…
*If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you can check out a collected trade paperback of Grizzlyshark for yourself. Find it by clicking on the image below!
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