Inks by Lauren Knight
Colours by Sofie Dodgson
Published by Image Comics
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona
My reason for grabbing this book at all however was not based on my love of stories about artists but instead for my love of paranormal stories. The fact that I'm an artist experiencing a large period of creative block illustration-wise, is a bit of a coincidence in terms of reading something I can related to. Of course, the fact that Skottie Young was writing something a bit darker and more adult was another reason for me grabbing this book, not to forget that fact that I love the art of Jorge Corona. So long-time fan of both these creators and of the collaborations they have been putting out together the past couple years.
Yes, I realize I'm a bit late to this book. The trade came out in March 2022 and serialized in the previous year. But hey, better late than pregnant, especially if you live the United States. This story follows artist Ro who moves into an old house in a rural location in order to find some inspiration for a new set of paintings. The house she moves into is well-known to be haunted. I'm going to try my best not to spoil the story but my motto for my reviews from now on happens to be : read at your own risk.
I feel like this story is more about the dark and trapped emotions associated with creative blocks rather than anything paranormal. Particularly as an artist, the struggle to come up with something new and different while also tapping into your deeper self, is a relatable struggle. Hmm I'm kinda reading other stories with this "writers block" sort of trope, that is also mixed with elements of the paranormal.. i.e. Brian Azarello & Maria Llovett's Faithless.
I think it's a fairly obvious that pairing creativity with the paranormal is a good match because the idea that artistic talent and/or creativity come from the gods or other paranormal beings, is not a new one. It has been a prevalent theme throughout history. The ancient Greeks for example, often talked about this in mythology. The Muses and various gods dedicated to bestowing innovation, creativity and artistic talent on random mortals have many stories of this nature. Further to this, the idea that artistic innovation itself comes from a dark part of your soul or psyche, the old trope of the suffering, brooding artist, for instance; the very idea that creative talent comes from a place of darkness and some dark force rather than something benevolent is also not a new concept but seen in puritan cultures.
This story feels like an exploration of creativity rather than a general haunting story. In fact, it isn't really a haunting story at all. The interactions Ro has with the being in her house is actually for much of the story, a very comfy one. She gains great friendship and inspiration from the spirit at first. It wouldn't be much of a story however if that were the end of it. Spoiler alert, the spirit isn't really all that nice. It's at this point that the story really becomes less paranormal again and feels more like the story of a battered woman. The red flags start to unfurl themselves before disaster falls. When this story takes a turn to domestic abuse, we see Skottie talking about how you can't force creativity and that when you do, progress is stalled. This happens multiple times.
There are a lot of other great themes running through this story, like the dangers of isolation when in a new relationship, the pressures of creating under a deadline, self confidence, imposter syndrome, abusive domestic relationships in general, and so many more things...
In conclusion, I really like this story. It carries so much more deeper themes and meaning than simply serving as another haunted house story. The ideas and themes is explore are all adult however so I wouldn't recommend this for anyone under 14 or 15 but that's really a parents judgement call there.
Watch my review of this comic in Youtube:
Illustrated by Szymon Kudranski
Published by Image Comics
Amazing way to start a comic book. I have to say that I immediately got into the mood for horror. The tone and atmosphere were perfectly crafted into existence with the first 3 pages. I write to you now, all my thoughts as I climb through this new horror story by one of the comic book world's best horror writers- Steve Niles. Have you written about necromancers here?! The first few pages portray a type of post-mortem surgery, an autopsy in reverse. A surgery putting a corpse back together. I am getting serious necromancer vibes and I love it!
Like many good horror comics, color on these panels are used minimally with the book consisting largely of haunting black and white . It is quite fitting for what is literally a town called Terror, population 1300, home to freaks and monsters. Our story centers around a man named Henry who grew up in Terror, driven away by in-laws and locals, unfortunately finds himself back there to deal with a family matter, against his will.
This is the first time I've read a book illustrated by Szymon. If you're a Spawn fan however, you would have seen his work on a few modern issues as well as Nita Hawe's Nightmare Blog Vol 1. Szymon is going to be blow up. Or haven't you noticed that this happens to pretty much every artist who works with Niles? Maybe keep your eye trained on Szymon and their trained hand! Horror seems to come naturally to Szymon and there are several pages that are particularly compelling in this first issue. Several sequential panels that flow with second by second movement just like pictures on a film reel. It is on these pages that I found myself taking the first few steps into the emotions of these new characters. That's when I realize, I'm hooked. When the artist can suck me in that way, showing me exactly how a character feels, that's when I feel that connection. The story becomes real to me. Now I need more.
If you haven't already ordered this story which I am certain will become a horror treasure, you should go call up your local comic book shop and get it added to your subscription box pronto! You do not want to miss this one! Use diamond code FEB220042. A Town Called Terror is available to buy tomorrow! Grab a copy at your local shop!
As always thanks for reading and remember to read something good today.
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen
The team that brought us DESCENDER and the spin-off story ASCENDER, is at it again. This time they brought us a horror inspired story about the last children on planet Earth who also happen to be starving vampires. LITTLE MONSTERS. Oh if you're around my age, you're probably reminded of the Fred Savage movie from '89 staring Howie Mandel. Ya I barely remember the plot of this movie. It was not one of my favorites as a child (is there any wonder?). No, this title doesn't seem to have anything to do with that one. Thankfully.
What we have here is an introductory issue that quietly presents each of the last living children to the reader. Lemire and Nguyen have perfected the atmosphere of this post-apocalyptic world with these near expressionless characters. You feel every bit of their ruined environment through the black and white panels. I should say, nearly completely black and white. Like so many great books before (some Frank Miller comes to mind), Nguyen uses reds as an impact effect to draw the readers eye to important parts of a panel. Blood never looks so impactful in black and white of course but he also uses the red to underline the names of the children as we meet them, among other things.
Through this debut issue, we get to see a little about of the humanity as well as the brutality that has been left behind in these eternal children. There's a beautiful moment revealed between 2 of the older children, Yui and Lucas. In this moment is revealed the nature of their day to day like as well as how they had to adjust to their new environment. Their eternal life in a dead world, it is obvious from this conversation that time is meaningless. It got me thinking what most people would do if time was meaningless to how our lives eb and flow. The day to day life of the monsters is completely unencumbered by responsibility or purpose. They don't even seem too hard-up on the survival front as they are depicted eating rats later in the book. I guess those are in no short supply. But the rest of humanity? They have not seen hide nor hair in what must be decades. The exact time frame since the death of the last human at this point is unknown. Yet if I know Lemire, he's likely got some amazing lore to share about this world. That is to say, if past stories like Descender can be any indicator.
I am very excited to see where this story was headed. I was reminded of The Wrenchies by Farrel Dalrymple while I read this issue. Simply due to that quiet atmosphere created by the illustration and narration. Or perhaps its the fact that its a story centered on odd children. Hard to say! I tried to keep all spoilers out of this article and will endeavor to do so in the future. More reviews to come. I wish I could assign a numbered rating to comics but that just isn't me. I think if I had to, I would give this issue 3 out of 3 crowns for leaving me enough curiosity to read the next issue. A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the series.