Digital Comics: Tabatha #1A comic review article by: Felicity Gustafson
Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster? Tabatha is a little like that. There are dips, inclines, rapid twists and turns before you're plunged into a dark cavern and come out the other end. People ride roller coasters for the thrill and they read comics -- horror comics, especially -- for the same reason. Tabatha's the perfect blend of everything everyone looks for in a horror comic: a thrilling sense of apprehension, a perverse sense of humor and characters I could see myself being friends with. That's what everybody wants, right? Versatility in a perfect package, complete with a little bow, and that pretty much sums up this comic in a nutshell.
The characters were a main selling point. Gibson wrote the main character in this issue, Luke, to be easily adored by everyone. He's the kind of sweetheart next door neighbor you would ask for a cup of sugar from. What he lacks in leather jackets or superhero spandex, he makes up for in dorky mailman who gets tongue tied when he sees a pretty girl answer the door. He goes to work every day just like the average guy, gets yelled at by his boss just like the average guy, and has those constantly arguing friends that just happen to be in a relationship. Everyone has those friends and you're probably thinking about them right now. The characters in Tabatha are easily related to; they put the reader in a comfort zone.
The glue that holds this whole story together is definitely the suspense. Tabatha has suspense down in spades. Don't let those comforting characters mislead you, this is still a horror story. The steadily mounting suspense in Tabatha is like going up a flight of stairs... in the dark... alone... with the promise of something deliciously twisted at the top. There was also a sprinkling of proverbial breadcrumbs in the pages of this book. Gibson has a tendency to give small, enticing hints throughout the story to string the reader along. The gradual build of interest and suspense is simply what makes a great horror story. Reading Tabatha is like working on a dark, cryptic puzzle. Every page strategically places a new piece until the whole picture suddenly snaps into focus.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Wijngaard's artwork strikes the perfect chord with the story either. The color scheme is singularly important, especially with a horror story -- darker colors coincide with the more mysterious, dreadful panels while the cheerful, bright colors paint the happier panels. However, one thing I love about Tabatha is that something horrible happening doesn't necessarily mean that the sun isn't shining and the birds aren't tweeting outside. It adds a sense of realism to the story. Bad things happen every day and it's not always done at night or by someone who appears sinister. That being said, I know Wijngaard had to have fun with some of the more comedic facial expressions on the main characters. He really put into essence that a day in the life of a mailman is never boring.
Tabatha also boasts an awesome trivia incentive in the form of a colored, full page panel with sixteen different pop culture references drawn in. There was a contest on the Twisted Dark Facebook page in August and nobody was able to accurately list them all. These Easter eggs add that little extra spark to a comic. You can be reading and suddenly notice a poster on a wall or something laying on a table that you recognize as being a hidden message straight from the artist and that automatically gives you more of a connection to the story by being included on the inside joke. So with Tabatha, not only are you getting a riveting story coupled with amazing artwork, you're getting an illustrated puzzle too.
Overall, Tabatha turned out to be an unexpected pleasure. The Gibson and Wijngaard combination has always been a favorite of mine, but this particular story spoke to me more than most. I was overly pleased with the general tone, the characters, the plot progression, the artwork... I just love Tabatha. If you're a horror fan or looking for a good mystery, I would highly recommend you take a look at this comic.
Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. At Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.