Writer: John Lees
Artist: Iain Laurie
Colourist: Megan Wilson
Letterer: Colin Bell
Release Date: 2nd April 2016 (Edinburgh Comic Con)
It’s time to start obsessively checking under your bed again before you go to sleep, folks, because the team behind the critically acclaimed “And Then Emily Was Gone” are back with QUILTE, a chilling one-shot set for an advance release at this weekend’s Edinburgh Comic Con.
The story is based around Dr Karla Quilte, a woman with a fairly unique gift. She assists people who are plagued by nightmares, stepping into their dreams and helping them deal firsthand with the trauma or repressed memories that are causing their problems. However, when she is called in to assist a young man who is so utterly terrified of falling asleep he has taken to self-harming just to keep himself awake, she quickly realizes that she may be completely out of her depth, and that the horrors in his subconscious are more than she could possibly hope to deal with.
Readers of Emily will already have some idea of what to expect from the distinctive Lees/Laurie vibe, with all manner of twisted horror beats and disturbing imagery to be found within these pages. The story is razor sharp, with nary a panel wasted as Lees crafts a rich, compelling tale that feels a lot longer and a lot more involved than its twenty-one pages would suggest.
There’s no denying that Lees has put together another truly gripping dose of horror here, even if his dialogue isn’t quite as polished as in some of his previous work. While there may be the occasional clunky turn of phrase along the way, the overall effect of the story is deeply immersive, and the mounting tension as Karla delves deeper and deeper into her troubled patient’s subconscious is genuinely unsettling.
If there’s an artist better suited to illustrating the twisted imaginings of a deeply disturbed subconscious than Iain Laurie, then I can honestly say I don’t want to ever meet them. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Laurie is on absolute career-best form here, and once again Lees gives the Edinburgh-based artist the perfect outlet for his own trademark brand of artistic depravity, with pages packed with twisted imagery and surrealist, disorientating panel layouts aplenty.
In fact, it’s perhaps these layouts that really push this book to a whole new level. Fractured, torn fragments of the subconscious bleed into one another; jagged, spiderweb-esque cracks provide a grim backdrop to the panels themselves; menacing tentacles creep their way in from the very edge of the pages, ignoring the usually safe borders. While his style may be something of an acquired taste – a fact the man himself will fully acknowledge – fans of the his distinctive aesthetic are in for an absolute treat here, and there are a couple of pages here that are almost worth the cover price alone.
The remaining members of the team, colourist Megan Wilson and letterer Colin Bell, give the book the extra polish it needs to really stand out. From Wilson’s ever-so-slightly flat colours and pale, haunting palette to Bell’s unobtrusive dialogue and wailing monstrosities, the entire creative team are working together in perfect synergy here.
Overall then, while it doesn’t quite manage to hit the dizzying heights of And Then Emily Was Gone, Iain Laurie’s constantly evolving and utterly unique artistic style – not to mention the delicious nature of the premise itself – makes Quilte an absolutely essential purchase for anyone who likes their horror with an extra dose of stomach-churning surrealism.
QUILTE will be available at Edinburgh Comic Con on April 2nd-3rd. A worldwide release from ComixTribe will follow later in the year.
To find out more about the series, make sure to check out our interview with John Lees and Iain Laurie by CLICKING HERE.