Writer: John Lees
Artist: Iain Laurie
Lettering: Colin Bell
Cover Colours: Megan Wilson
One of the most eagerly-anticipated titles set to debut at Thought Bubble this weekend, And Then Emily Was Gone #2 sees the continuation of the latest horror-mystery offering from prolific Glasgow writer John Lees (The Standard, Bad Sun, Black Leaf) and one of the most unique artists going at the moment, Edinburgh-based Iain Laurie (Roachwell, Horror Mountain). And after an incredibly effective, incredibly tense cliffhanger – to say the least – at the end of issue one, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t alone in wanting to know what happens next.
I’m not going to delve into any sort of spoilers here, for fear of ruining the impact of reading it for yourselves, but to address the elephant in the room… yes, you find out what’s in the box in this issue. And yes, it’s every bit as disturbing as your imagination might have led you to expect, if not more so.
Overall, there’s a definite sinking sensation to this title, a feeling that we’re being sucked deeper and deeper into a world of complete and utter darkness, and this is only enhanced by Laurie’s uniquely disturbing artwork. There isn’t a single person here who looks ‘normal’ or ‘innocent’, with everyone and everything appearing grotesquely over-exaggerated like some bizarre fever dream. There are a lot of intriguing characters being gradually developed by Lees here too, and the more we find out about any of them, the less comfortable we become.
Laurie’s artwork also provides a glorious sense of ambiguity, leaving us permanently unsure if we’re witnessing reality or another one of Hellinger’s all-too-vivid hallucinations. And while there are occasional moments when this proved a little off-putting (in a “oh sweet Jesus, what’s wrong with that guy’s face?! Oh, wait… it’s just Laurie’s artwork, phew!” kind of way), for the most part it works extremely well in building the growing sense of unease that permeates this title. Channeling the likes of Cronenberg or Lynch with almost every panel, there are some images and moments here that are likely to linger with you for a long, long time after you’ve finally put the comic down – a true testament to the disturbing impact of his artwork.
Lees’ writing remains as sharp and restrained as ever as he gradually drip-feeds us shocking detail after shocking detail, letting our imaginations run wild and almost daring us to keep reading. There are moments in this book that are genuinely uncomfortable, and both writer and artist combine flawlessly to hammer home the urgency and tension of these beats. And, when all is said and done, Lees delivers yet another stellar cliffhanger with a shocking double-take of a final page that’s only going to make the wait until issue three that much more painful.
Simply put, And Then Emily Was Gone is a masterclass in tense, disturbing horror and is a title I truly can’t recommend highly enough. It also seems to be the project both Lees and Laurie were born to work on, as it plays perfectly to both of their unique strengths. This is a book that is undeniably going to be one of the small press highlights of this weekend’s Thought Bubble event, and is one that deserves to be exposed to as wide an audience as possible.
John will be selling copies of And Then Emily Was Gone #2 (alongside a lot of his other tremendous back catalogue, I would assume) at Thought Bubble next weekend. He’ll be at Table 2 in Royal Armouries Hall (which is rapidly starting to sound like the place to be) alongside Sam Read (Exit Generation), Colin Bell (Dungeon Fun) and Harry French (Master Tape).
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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