Written and illustrated by Daniel Bell
Atoning for a tragedy from years before that he believes was his fault, Caleb Stevenson eschews the fortune that he and his brother have accumulated, and instead spends his days in quiet reflection, tending to his late father’s run-down property and solitary island. However, his peace is disturbed when a childhood friend brings a mysterious old woman and her ward to the island, and he must risk everything to protect the boy from the spirits that haunt it.
The Ferryman is a folk tale that dances on a knife-edge between fantasy and horror. It is certainly a fantasy story; a story of the thin places between our world and the world of the fey, but there is also a horror element that runs throughout the narrative. Caleb has witnessed strange and inexplicable events on the island which are designed to keep him away, to keep anyone away from this place, but the horror feels almost incidental to a story which is primarily about redemption and new beginnings.
The story itself is a really good premise, and a great base for a folk horror/fantasy story but for me, it just falls short of being a great telling of that story. I like what Daniel Bell has done, but it just seems to flinch away from fully committing to either the fantasy or the horror. I think what’s stopping me from fully enjoying/appreciating Bell’s narrative is the artwork. It either needs to embrace the fantasy or the horror more fully but it’s not as fantastical or as dark and forbidding as it needs to be to carry the story. Without a more tangible sense of darkness and dread, the fantastical doesn’t have enough contrast and is therefore less powerful.
For me a great example of what would have made this exceptional would be to look at how Tyler Crook blended the everyday world of Harrow County with the horrifying and magical world of The Haints. Even better would be to look at some of the Great folk horror movies of the 70’s such as The Blood on Satan’s Claw to find the right kind of tone and darkness.
Daniel Bell’s story is a good one, there are some really good elements to it, and I think that it’s one that could be developed into a great one. I’d like to see what Bell could create if he could concentrate on just the writing, I think he’s got some great ideas and I’d like to see them developed with an artist that can really bring them to life on the page.
The Ferryman is currently funding on Kickstarter until Monday November the 16th, and you can check it out by CLICKING HERE.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek