Review: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Grave

Originally posted on Irish Comic News (5/Feb/2018)

Written by Jason Browne.
Line art by Liam Naughton.
Colour art by Chris O’Halloran.
Letters by Robin Jones.
Additional work by Billy Browne.

The Grave sees Professor Albert Thompson recount the story of one fateful night when his best friend Nigel Webster as for his help with a matter of great importance. The comic is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’.

The story itself moves between Thompson in present day and his memories of the night everything changed for both him and Webster. The comic is a self contained story but the use of the two linked stories running parallel in the comic provides some cliffhangers as it moves between stories. For the most part, Thompson is the only visible character on the page but the creative team do a good job of building up tension as the stories progresses.

The writing through the memory sequences and the letter that Thompson is writing really conveys how much the events of that night weigh on his conscience. Within the memory sequences the sense of despair at his inabiity to help his friend is palpable. The horror of the story is what is planted in the readers mind. The comic doesn’t go for the horror in front of your eyes, rather it leaves it to the reader imagination what horrors Nigel endures as Thompson can only listen on in terror.

With much of the story handling in the one location, the art team have their work cut out for them. Buildings and the interior of the graveyard are well drawn. Making use of various camera angles really helps build on the tension that the writing was aiming for. The use of camera angles is used well when the story has its more energetic action moment. The characters themselves are well drawn with the reader in little doubt when they are feeling terror or despair.

The story for the most part takes place at night, so a lot of the props, scenery and characters share variations of the same part of the colour spectrum. But none of them bleed into the other. Everything is clearly distinguishable for the other. The use of a bright green works well to separate the supernatural from everything else. The readers sees the colour and its a cue to let them know something supernatural or magical is happening.

There’s a nice variety to the lettering. Captions containing the text of the letter Thompson is writing have a handwritten look to them while dialogue is the type of text comic readers would be more familiar with. In addition to the text, the word balloons for the dialogue heard through the telephone are presented slightly modified to the standard word balloon. It’s a small detail that makes it easy to discern who is speaking when the word balloon is lacking a tail to the speaker. Sound effects are also well designed.

With all the hard work that the team put into the comic it was unfortunate that some simple spelling errors did manage to make their way into the completed comic. Nothing to spoil the enjoyment of the comic but you would like them to get picked up before release. The captions containing the text from the letter Thompson is writing seemed to move to different fonts and formatting, sometimes on the same page. It was something that did stop me during re-reads of the comic as I was left wondering the significance of the change in text. Choosing one style and keeping it consistent throughout the comic would have worked better for me.

The Grave is a well produced small press comic that should appeal to those who enjoy a good horror story. It’s currently available on Comixology for less than €2. Not much to ask for a 25 page horror comic.

You can buy The Grave on Comixology.

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