Black Cat Chronicles: Greyfriars Cemetery
Francesca Maria, author; Nate Olson, artist
Black Cat Publishing, 2021
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale
Black Cat Chronicles has a Tales of Crypt-type feel as readers are introduced to historical horror by the host, the Black Cat. Like all cats, the Black Cat is elusive and likely to ignore you, but he will tell tales that are based on fact and embedded with supernatural folklore.
The love for comics is apparent at first glance of this book. The art is glossy and evocative and the strength of the issue. The images carry the story and help to fill in the blanks where the wording is unclear. Olson is in league with Ben Templesmith, Greg Ruth, and other professionals whose color choices and visual angles heavily influence and elevate the material. The text is concise, and the font is easy to read.
The cat introduces us to several horrors in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is a bit disorienting, before settling down into Greyfriars Cemetery. I had to read the introductory background on the religious persecution twice to comprehend it, but the images helped to convey the meaning.
We finally get into the meat of the story which centers around George “Bluidy” Mackenzie. Mackenzie was a tyrant of a prosecutor and jailor. He oversaw the deaths of thousands and, at the time of his own death, was interred in a mausoleum in Greyfriars Cemetery where he could “keep an eye” on his victims in the afterworld. Fast forward through the centuries and Mackenzie’s grave was disrupted. After this event, visitors to the cemetery experienced acts of supernatural violence.
Following the story is a loving “Black Cat Chronicles Wall of Infamy” which introduces us to many real-life cats. While not all pictured are black cats, they are a heart melting palate cleanser after reading of real-life horrors and realistic supernatural encounters. I would definitely read more chapters of horrific history as told by the Black Cat, mostly to look at the renderings by Olson.