Review: John Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke and Jason Felix

banner that reads The Comic Vault

cover of Sour CandyJohn Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke and Jason Felix
Storm King Productions (March 2022)
104 pages; $17.99 paperback
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Back in 2015, I had the pleasure of reviewing Kealan Patrick Burke’s then-new novella, Sour Candy. You can see the full review here, but I’ll include the plot summary from that review below:

Phil Pendleton is spending his Saturday morning in a Walmart candy aisle, choosing chocolate for he and his girlfriend, Lori, to enjoy later that day, when a piercing scream startles him and several shoppers around him. Further down the aisle stands the screamer, a young boy, and his harried-looking mother. Phil, who lost a marriage over his unwillingness to have kids, finds relief in the fact that the boy isn’t his, but it’s a relief tinged with a deep sorrow for the woman, who seems to have more weighing on her than just a bad-tempered child. He even speaks to them in an attempt to diffuse the situation, and accepts a piece of sour candy from the kid.

It’s a move he will come to regret. That simple act sends his life spiraling out of control, with the young child at the center of a hurricane that sweeps away the life he’d built and the hopes he held for the future. That act also sets off a chain of events that rip away the veil of reality as Phil once knew it, introducing him to dark and sinister corners he never before knew existed.

I’m happy to say that in this new incarnation — a graphic novel adaptation for John Carpenter’s “Night Terrors” line — the story retains all its raw power, dread and unease. The complete upending of Phil’s life is the stuff of nightmares even before you consider the chilling origin of his woes.

The art for this version of Sour Candy is supplied by Jason Felix. I’ll be honest — it’s not my preferred style. Felix’s background in video game design stands front and center in his work here, and it’s just a touch too photorealistic for me. It’s really only an issue in the “real world” scenes, though. When the story moves into its supernatural elements, Felix produces some incredibly striking, frightening imagery. Make no mistake, my misgivings are purely based in personal bias, and are in no way a reflection of Felix’s talent, which is very impressive.

Kealan Patrick Burke remains one of the most underrated talents in horror fiction. From his Timmy Quinn series to Kin to Sour Candy, he’s a master maker of nightmares. I’ll continue to champion his work as long as he continues to produce it.

Leave a Reply