‘Chapter 1. Horrors, forgotten truths and odd incantations lie in between the pages of antique books.’
Written/Art by: Scott Boyce
Publisher: Artisan Shovel
Released: 28 June 2017
As you can guess, the cover to this had me intrigued. The art style is interesting to be sure, but the hint of weird horror creature in the bottom panel got my attention. Horror featuring weird creatures is my favourite of the horror categories, and including old books and the secrets they potentially hold is a winner (I love books). The colouring is elegantly understated and subtly reddish, so I’m diving in.
The interesting style is apparently Boyce’s usual, as a quick scroll through is blog attests. It had me a little off-balance at first, but the subdued colours work excellently for the build-up of horror tension; hinting at strange shapes and twisted forms that aren’t revealed yet, keeping characters locked in heavy-lidded ennui or stark and open emotion. The mix of close-ups and wide shots do their job at giving seemingly simple things sudden narrative weight, or suddenly putting a character’s emotion in your face to make you tense with anticipation at what it’s leading to. While there’s no reveal of anything yet in this first issue – only character introduction and build-up – the artwork is a great hint at the sort of stretch-limbed, toothy creations that might follow. I’m tempted to compare the feel so far to maybe a Clive Barker work or Hellraiser, but Boyce is apparently a fan of H. R. Giger’s work on Alien which is even more exciting considering Giger was known for more rounded and twisted organic/mechanic shapes, so I’m really looking forward to how the unnatural parts are going to look and affect the story (the hints on Antique Books’ Kickstarter page are promising).
I wish the story had allowed for some sort of monster reveal, but that’s just my impatience. We’re introduced to five characters in this issue, each individual and mostly unusual. We follow the main character’s suspicions and uncertainty about the people around her – strangers and those she thinks she knows alike – and since she’s characterized as a not-long-out-of-uni young person unsure of her future I’m betting on a decisive character arc too. The Kickstarter campaign for this comic raised nearly four times what was asked, so there’s a high expectation for the quality of the overall product. It’s billed there as a graphic novel split into four issues for release, which bodes well for the plot progressing in a timely manner, so it’ll be interesting to see if it continues a slow-burn like this issue or changes gears once the action starts.
I’m definitely looking forward to more; horror isn’t often my thing, but this is really promising (I’ll probably wait for the collected edition). In case you were wondering, the French spoken by Madame Nola on the preview page is slightly garbled but about it being the moon’s time to go, calling Eve ‘child’ and Eve’s blood being special to her, and her time being close. I wonder if that has any bearing on the plot.
Thanks to Comixology.com for supplying this issue of Antique Books #1 for review.