Publisher: Cabal Comics
Writer: Fraser Campbell
Artwork: Iain Laurie
Colours: David B. Cooper
Lettering: Colin Bell
Release Date: 9th November 2019 (Thought Bubble – Ask For Mercy Hall, Table 53)
Hans is struggling to finish his latest book and needs to find somewhere remote to work. His sister Retha is looking for support after her relationship breaks down and leaves her struggling financially. Remembering a cabin where they stayed as children, they head into the woods hoping to find a solution to their problems.
However, as soon as the pair arrive, things start to take on a surreal aspect. Hans begins to find pages of script that he has no memory of writing and Retha’s trips into the woods take on an increasingly terrifying and dreamlike quality. As long suppressed memories of a terrible accident begin to surface, Hans and Retha find themselves spiralling slowly and inexorably into bone-chilling madness.
This is a surreal and disturbing tale, which is exactly as it should be with Fraser Campbell and Iain Laurie at the helm. House of Sweets has a fractured and disjointed approach to it that really keeps you superbly off balance all the way to the end.
Having read Campbell’s Alex Automatic and Sleeping Dogs, I was already expecting something unusual, but this is way better than I’d hoped. The narrative evolves into a tortured stream of consciousness as we follow Hans and Retha’s journey, and The Crow’s tale for me, is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allen Poe, assuming they both took a lot of acid and then sat down to write together. Personally speaking, I would really like to see Fraser Campbell get more exposure. He’s a talented writer, and has a wonderful mixture of Lovecraft, Poe and Lynch in his style that’s hard to fault.
Likewise, Iain Laurie is one of those artists who I really don’t think gets enough press. I follow his exploits on Twitter and Instagram and he does a sterling job of delivering extremely disturbing and creepy images and stories on a regular basis. If you’ve read And Then Emily Was Gone (written by John Lees) you’ll have an inkling of just how creepy and twisted Laurie can get, and House of Sweets is no exception. Laurie brings Campbell’s story crawling off the page in a way guaranteed to set the hairs on the back of your neck on end.
Whilst I’m used to seeing Laurie colour his own work, I have to say that David B. Cooper has done a fantastic job of putting that final edge on the artwork here, and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention some quality lettering provided by Colin Bell which helps to tie Campbell’s story and Laurie’s images together beautifully.
If you’re at Thought Bubble this month then do your very best to track Fraser Campbell down and grab a copy of House of Sweets. Or, if you’re not going to be able to get there (like me), then keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming Kickstarter where you’ll have another opportunity to grab a print copy of this fantastically disturbing tale.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek