£1.50 from Dave Candlish at "email@example.com" or
5 Cerdarway, Whitehills, Tyne & wear, NE10 8LD, UK
The binding theme of this anthology is horror, but itís actually applied quite loosely, which makes for an interesting variety of strips. The main event is an adaptation of the 1970 Hammer film Scars Of Dracula, and itís fun to see such an adaptation attempted, as aside from Marvel and DC adapting their own films to the comic medium, such projects are fairly rare. Although itís very much a condensed version of the film, it comes across very well, and at no point feels rushed. Moreover, the condensed storytelling and abundant narrative captions make it feel like a story straight from an old British weekly comic of the same era as the film, which is actually very appropriate. The story isnít the best, but thatís a criticism more properly aimed at the original film. The art is surprisingly good, although I think it would have been a better choice to have dumped the attempts at photorealism completely; while the artist does a good job of capturing the likenesses of the filmís cast, I would have preferred to have seen the strip done in the artistís own style.
Sadly, the samurai strip "Jikan" is less successful; not enough of the story is printed here to properly engage with it, and it comes off as a rather generic wandering ronin kind of tale. The use of omnipresent and utterly redundant narrative captions is also a big failing; I really donít see the point of putting in a caption that exactly describes whatís clearly going on in that panel.
"Undertow" is far more interesting, and nudges the Dracula strip out as my favourite story in this issue. Itís a strange and deliberately confusing tale full of disturbing imagery that reminded me somewhat of Clive Barkerís work. The sense of mystery and the general strangeness of the strip work to evoke an unsettled feel in the reader, and itís a very compelling first episode, with a classic but well-used twist ending. The artist, Dave Candlish, handles the grotesque imagery very well, although more detail in the artwork would be appreciated.
The main strips are of good quality, and the ongoing "Undertow" in particular promises to be a strong backbone to the comic. Writer/editor/artist Candlish needs to work a bit on the overall presentation and design of the comic (the cover is a bit bland and the layouts of the text pages are rather unimaginative), but all in all, this is a good strong start.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!