Feature

Doctor Cerberus

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has written a “sweet and canny portrait of the artist as a young fanboy,” said Charlotte Stoudt in the Los Angeles Times.

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Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has written a “sweet and canny portrait of the artist as a young fanboy,” said Charlotte Stoudt in the Los Angeles Times. It’s the mid-1980s, and 13-year-old Franklin has become obsessed with Cerberus, the cheesy, plastic-fanged vampire host of a local late-night TV horror show called Nightmare Theatre. He’s also a Stephen King wannabe who spends nights in his bedroom writing short stories in which “mummies run amok and parents are carved up for dinner.” Franklin’s love of all things freaky turns out to be part adolescent self-discovery, part an attempt to escape from his family’s “blood-sucking ways.” His jock brother ridicules his geeky tendencies, and his warring parents undercut his writerly ambitions. Home, it seems, is where the real horror is.

Like its teen protagonist, Doctor Cerberus is “much more substantial than it first seems,” said Paul Hodgins in the Orange County, Calif., Register. What seems like a lighthearted salute to campy TV creature-features quickly gains surprising depth: Franklin also must deal with a dawning awareness that he’s gay, and his attempts to break this news to his rage-filled father and mean-spirited mother are scarier than anything on late-night television. Jamison Jones pulls impressive double duty as two of Franklin’s mentors—both the titular TV host and Franklin’s uncle, an ailing television writer who nurtures the boy’s own artistic dreams. Brett Ryback, meanwhile, vividly brings Franklin to life in a tour de force portrayal of “a young creative mind trying to find its outlet.”

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