cover image House of Penance

House of Penance

Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram. Dark Horse, $19.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-50670-033-5

With this unusual take on the real story of the Winchester house in San Jose, Calif., Tomasi (Batman and Robin) and Bertram (Zero), have created perhaps the first biographical horror graphic novel. Sarah Winchester, widow of firearms magnate William Winchester, employs men to continually expand her San Jose house, night and day. Tomasi depicts Sarah hallucinating about the dead killed by Winchester rifles: pools of blood and enormous veins threaten her and the house, with only the continued hammering keeping these horrors at bay. Fictional workman Warren Peck is a newcomer to Sarah’s house and, like all the men working there, has a past of horrible violence. Partially because of this, he and Sarah become close. Bertram brings to gory life all of Sarah’s delusions as well as Warren’s memories of those he killed. His male characters tend toward the grotesque, perhaps closest to the work of Frank Quietly, while Sarah is all cheekbones and huge eyes. The ghosts here are all in the characters’ minds but frightening nonetheless. (Jan.)