Publisher: Freaktown Comics
Words: Russell Hillman
Pictures: Sergio Calvet
The Dark of the Forest, from Freaktown Comics, made its debut this past weekend at Thought Bubble (alongside ‘Fast and Frightening’, Freaktown’s Roller Derby-based drama), and we were fortunate enough to be able to take a look at it.
Let’s cut right to the chase – this is a straight-up slasher movie in comic book form. Not a parody, or a high-concept adaptation, but a loving homage to the genre and all its glorious clichés. Those of you wanting a ‘too cool for school’ look at the genre, complete with knowing nods and Scream-style tongue-in-cheek references would do well to look elsewhere. This is a 48-page comic that fully embraces the basic formula that has made the slasher movie so incredible successful over the years; almost impossibly beautiful characters behaving badly and getting bumped off in a series of increasingly grisly ways.
As a result of the subject matter, the characterisation here is a little on the light side. Yes, Hillman gives us a basic understanding of the characters and their relationships, and all the familiar tropes are accounted for (the jock, the slut, the superstitious hippy, the sex-starved “geek” girl, etc.), but there isn’t a whole lot of time spent delving much deeper into their personalities than that because, well (spoilers!), most of aren’t going to be around for too long.
Sadly, one of the downsides of this lack of in-depth characterisation is that the most essential member of the group (the spunky female lead who stands up to the threat) is difficult to get too invested in, making the finale fall just a little flat in my opinion. Perhaps a little more time spent on making us care about her would have made the payoff just a little sweeter, and avoided a sense of us just sitting around waiting for the next gloriously grisly kill.
Calvet’s artwork stays true to the genre, with his cartoony and anatomically over-exaggerated physiques (particularly on the female characters) fitting the style of the slasher movies of old perfectly. Grittily realistic this isn’t, but his approach allows him to really cut loose when it comes to the kills, with all manner of decapitations, dismemberments and mutilations gleefully present. My one minor niggle would have to be with the similarity between everyone’s body types, with the girls all seeming to be the same person with different hair. That said, it’s an observation that’s also pretty much true of most of the the old-school slasher movies this title is paying tribute to, so in that respect it’s actually fairly accurate.
The book also features an overabundance of (again, cartoonishly over-exaggerated) sex, once again staying true to the slasher movies of old. There’s nothing too explicit going on here but, all the same, this is clearly not a title that’s aimed at a younger audiences.
Overall, The Dark of the Forest is a great bit of fun with some solid artwork and a definite love of the genre it’s paying homage to. High art it isn’t, nor is there much of a message being conveyed (except maybe that Forests are, for the most part, bad places to be), but if you’re a lover of old-school slasher or monster movies, this book should be right up your street, and is well worth a look.
FOUR-PAGE SNEAK PREVIEW
(Click the thumbnails to view the full pages)
Copies of The Dark of the Forest will be available shortly on UKonDisplay.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says