Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia imprint)
Writer/Artist: Jennifer Rostowsky
Lettering: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 20th May 2020
In the second issue of Ghosts, the latest themed offering in BOOM! Studios’ recurring series based on cult “classic” TV show Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, debuting creator (or I believe so, anyway) Jennifer Rostowsky takes the reins for a tale of unrequited love, hubris and black magic.
As anyone familiar with the format (or indeed the TV show) will know, this is a standalone tale based loosely around the theme of “Ghosts”. In this issue, Rostowsky tells the story of Monika, a young and wealthy Khmer woman who has everything money can buy, with the exception of the affections of the man she loves. When she turns to dark magic in an attempt to win his hand, her materialistic nature results in the spell turning on her, transforming her into an Ahp – a nocturnal spirit of Southeast Asian folklore – and cursing her to deal with the consequences of her foolishness for the rest of her days.
It’s a straightforward enough story with a straightforward enough moral, but Rostowsky delivers it rather well, painting Monika as a fairly tragic, if undeniably flawed, protagonist. For me though, what really sells this issue is the striking nature of Rostowsky’s artwork, boasting a crisp, stylised approach and some truly creative layouts along the way. The splash page featuring Monika’s aforementioned transformation is the real highlight for me, with a haunting, unsettling feel and a shocking introduction to the disturbing nature of the spirit.
Her colours also really help to underscore the more sinister aspects of the story, shifting from pale pinks, reds and oranges to dark blues and suffocating shadows as the tone darkens. Rounding out the visual package is the typically professional lettering of Jim Campbell, who guides us around the page and adds a real feeling of menace to the scene where the dark forces reject her arrogant bargain.
Another solid addition to The Storyteller back catalogue then, and an introduction to a new artist who I’ll definitely be seeking out in the future. Well worth a look, particularly if you have any sort of interest in Asian folklore.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]