Writer: John Lees
Artist: Alex Cormack
Letterer: Colin Bell
Release Date: 6th October 2016 (New York Comic Con)
Following on from the impressive #getinthevan marketing campaign, and with its official launch at this weekend’s New York Comic Con right around the corner, we’re thrilled – if that’s the right word – to be able to take an early look at the first issue of SINK, the latest ComixTribe offering from writer John Lees and artist Alex Cormack.
The series is set in Glasgow, albeit a slightly darker, slightly more violent Glasgow – specifically in a fictional suburb called Sinkhill. This first issue follows regular Glaswegian Allan who, fresh from putting the world to rights in a city centre bar, finds himself forced to walk home after missing the last bus (something that, once we actually get a look at the last bus, may almost be considered a blessing in disguise). It doesn’t take long for him to run into trouble, kicking off a terrifying night where he is brought face to face with the disturbingly violent underbelly of the “dear green place”.
Lees does a fantastic job of tapping into some truly primal fears here. Anyone who’s ever found themselves walking home late at night after a boozy night out will likely have felt the discomfort and anxiety caused by every drunken weirdo who ambles up to them, and the sheer suddenness with which jovial banter can degenerate into menacing threats is something any Glaswegian native will most definitely be able to relate to. Also, clowns, man. Fucking clowns.
Horror in the comic medium can often be a tricky concept to master, with the go-to staples like creepy soundtracks and jump-scares all but removed from the equation. Thankfully, we’re in good hands here with Lees, someone who appreciates the subtler nuances of the genre, such as the simplicity of that sinking feeling in the pit of your gut as a van drives past you, stops, then slowly reverses.
From a visual point of view, the one thing that initially jumped out at me is just how faithfully recreated Glasgow is – something that should probably come as no surprise given Cormack’s exhaustive research on the sights of the city, not to mention Lees himself living on the outskirts of Glasgow in Rutherglen. Familiar landmarks like Central Station and the Barras are used to establish the setting, and while from an outside observer’s point of view this could simply be viewed as just another dark, grimy and terrifying city, for those of us who are well acquainted with the distinctive feel of Glasgow, the story is given an added layer of resonance due to its chilling familiarity.
As should be expected, Cormack does an absolutely scintillating job here, and it’s truly criminal at this point that the talented illustrator isn’t attached to one of the big-time US publishers yet (a hurdle Lees himself recently vaulted with the announcement of his upcoming TMNT series for IDW Publishing alongside artist Nick Pitarra). The tone and pace fluctuates throughout, ranging from creeping, unnerving horror to all-out frenzied violence and gore, with the arrival of Sinkhill native “Mister Dig” and the appearance of the aforementioned clowns all but guaranteed to leave jaws on the floor.
Credit should also be given to the impressive lettering of Colin Bell, particularly during the nightmarish clown sequence, with Bell really helping to hammer home the claustrophobic terror of the situation poor Allan finds himself in.
This is ostensibly an introduction issue, setting the tone for the series and “welcoming” the reader to the twisted version of Glasgow that Lees and Cormack have created. Lees does a fantastic job with the horror beats of the story, establishing the world beautifully and scattering a few breadcrumbs for future stories in the series, while Cormack paints such a vivid, visceral picture that there’s almost a subconscious desire to go and wash your hands after finally being able to put this first issue down.
I know I keep saying this about almost everything Lees churns out these days, but this may very well be his best work so far. His clear passion for the project shines through in every page, and the partnership with Cormack provides a seamless, unified voice to deliver the gut-wrenching, stomach-churning horror. Brutal, shocking and packed with a creeping sense of dread that will linger long after you’ve finished reading, SINK is undoubtedly set to be one of the hottest exclusives at this year’s New York Comic Con. Let’s all get in the van together, shall we?
Uhh… you first, though…
If you’re at New York Comic Con this weekend, you can pick up SINK #1 at ComixTribe Table 2022.
However, if you can’t make it to New York, have no fear, because you can still get your hands on the first issue by subscribing to the official SINK mailing list at sink.comixtribe.com.