I had a soft-spot for Old Folks Home right from the start. I used to live in Glasgow, and I loved the brilliantly rendered scene of the Royal Exchange Square, complete with traffic cone on the head of the statue of the Duke of Wellington. Unfortunately, that one scene and a bit of the patter are about all we get of Glasgow. The rest of the story takes place in a single apartment.
As you can pick up from the cover, Old Folks Home is a low-budget, amateur horror comic — what, in America, we would charitably referred to as an “indie.” It is always tough to review this kind of comic, because you want to be encouraging to its creators and acknowledge that this is most likely a self-financed, self-published, labor of love rather than a slick, professional release from an established company with editors, typesetters and printers. It can work. Some low-budget self-produced stuff can turn out pretty awesome, raw and vital. But most of it is just terrible, and you just shake your head and think “Well, this person will never make it.”
Where does Old Folks Home lie? Somewhere in the middle. All in all, it is a pretty mediocre comic with occasional flashes of brilliance poking through.
The twist of the story is entirely given away by the cover. A man and his wife come home to find the man’s elderly parents sitting on the living room sofa and not in the retirement home they had been stuck in. They brought a few friends along, and it seems they were tired of ungrateful children who tried to hide them away in an old folks home, and they all decided to make a break for it and deliver a little payback. A fairly straight-forward slasher set-up; Revenge of the Old People, the kind of story that seems familiar enough that I am sure I have seen something similar in a low-budget slasher flick. Some dark humor and gore, but not a lot of originality.
The artist (McMorrow or McLaughlin? Not sure who does what on the book) draws old people really well. There are hints of Frank Quitely (another Glaswegian) in the art, especially in the line-work on the faces. There is a nice grotesque element that works really well, with a certain freakshow monstrousness around the old folks.
But where the art is a strength of the comic, it is also the weakness. For some reason, while the old people are rendered in fine detail, the young people have heads like jelly beans with faces drawn on them using a magic marker. It is really quite odd to think that the same artist drew them both. The artist also needs some serious work on perspective and body posture. There are too many instances of boneless Olive Oyl-arms flailing about, and one scene that I thought was a staircase turned out to be a baby’s crib from the baby’s point of view. Perspective, guys. Vanishing points. Horizons. Use them.
Some of the scenes, like the scene of the Royal Exchange Square, show that the artist can draw. He just needs to learn how to take that same time with and effort every panel, rather than doing a half-assed rush through the smaller panels and saving his talent for the money shots.
You can buy Old Folks Home at Laser Age Comics.