Writer: Chris Robertson
Illustrator: Scott Beveridge
Cover Artist: Andrew Kelly
Release Date: 5th September, 2015
After a slow-burner of a first issue, Aberdeen-based small press imprint La Baguette Noir’s horror mystery series Maidenstone keeps up the niggling sense of impending doom in its second chapter. With teenager Lucy Maitland trying her best to keep her life on track following the mysterious death of her father, her relationship with enigmatic stranger Dylan continues to blossom, even as it turns out that Dylan’s motives may not be quite as innocent as they first appear.
Writer Chris Robertson is clearly taking his time on this one, which is no bad thing. For all intents and purposes, the first couple of issues have almost felt like a teen drama for the most part; a young girl struggling with her grief, living in a dead-end town and plagued by bullies and family problems. It’s the little touches however that give this series its edge. The unsettling notion that something sinister is about to happen, and the faintly supernatural aura that permeates this otherwise grounded story.
Once again, the strongest aspect of Maidenstone is, for my money, its visual aesthetic, with the scratchy, uneven black-and-white style of artist Scott Beveridge giving the whole book an unnerving, almost grotesque appearance at times. He is helped immeasurably in this regard by Robertson’s story which gives us several (albeit fleeting) glimpses of the true horror lurking on the periphery, providing the perfect outlet for Beveridge to flex his artistic muscle. Sure, the artwork is far from flawless, but if anything these ‘rough edges’ actually help to enhance the vibe of the story, giving several of the otherwise innocuous scenes an almost nightmarish quality.
Okay, so the pacing to this point isn’t likely to appeal to everyone, as Robertson is taking things verrrry slowly as he gradually peels back the layers of this mystery. Those looking for a ‘quick fix’ or something a little meatier to get their teeth into are likely to wind up disappointed, but this is clearly a horror series that isn’t going to rely on schlocky gore or tacky visuals to get its point across. Also, the artwork isn’t necessarily going to be to everyone’s taste, with a roughness to it that almost borders on unfinished in places. That said, the overall package is a truly intriguing one; a grounded horror tale with a distinctive Northeast of Scotland slant, and a story which has dug its claws into me, making me firmly invested in what happens next.
You can buy copies of Maidenstone #1 and #2 from Forbidden Planet and Plan 9 in Aberdeen, as well as from http://baguettenoirpress.bigcartel.com