Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #41 - October 1999
|Publisher:|| Fantagraphics |
|Writer:|| Richard Sala |
|Artist:|| Richard Sala |
|Frequency:||every 4 months|
At the remote Lone Mountain College, a nebbishy photography
student gets an unexpected gig: he's hired to just photograph
a professor. Surprised at the simplicity of the assignment, the
young man is soon caught in a web of intrigue, and finds himself
being "assisted" by his hyperactive ex-girlfriend, Judy Drood,
who insists on investigating anything that seems at all unusual.
That's really quite a bit at Lone Mountain. Lately, a string of
disappearances has taken a decidedly more sinister turn and a
series of murders has begun, as the faculty of the college meet in
secret to discuss a little problem they're having. It seems there's
someone up in the college tower...
Wonderfully creepy plotting and a colorful mix of characters
make this book a solid winner. Following on the heels of his successful
Chuckling Whatsit trade paperback, Richard Sala goes
back to the well for more of the same juicy stuff that makes him
the 90's king of gothic mystery. Each character is sharply
defined, from cowardly college boy Kasper Keene to dynamic
investigator Judy Drood, from the scheming Professor Larva to
the curious Auntie Azalea. The criminals (or at least those with
mysterious intentions) far outnumber the heroes in this plot, but
the bad guys provide the bulk of the mystery and fun in this
lovely labyrinthine puzzle box. Each issue also contains a backup
story, a self-contained little vignette in the life of an odd teenage
goth girl, Peculia, and the fantastic life she lives.
Art ©1999 by Richard Sala
I'm sure these comparisons have been made hundreds of times
before, but they bear repeating: Charles Addams meets Charles
Burns. If I had to give a "high-concept" description of Richard
Sala's art, I'd say he draws like Edward Gorey attempting to etch
a Magritte picture while Chester Gould adds characters into the
foreground. Sala's people are simple and clean-lined. Good guys
look normal, even pretty, while bad guys are by and large oddly
shaped. Meanwhile, the backgrounds are full of dark etchings of
staircases, corners, and bookcases. Meticulous detail to background
shadings in dark recesses adds an eerie air to even the
most benign setting, and gives Evil Eye the creepy atmosphere it
holds so well, without overdoing it or overpowering the reader.
Evil Eye is an excellent choice for readers of other Goth material,
including Lenore, Scary Godmother, and Johnny, the Homicidal
Maniac. Its intriguing mystery will also hook fans of Whiteout,
Sin City, and The Trespassers. People who liked Sala's gorgeous
animation on MTV's seminal Liquid Television will love his
comics work, as will fans of lighter fare like the Fear Street
books, or classic comics noir like Baker Street or V For Vendetta.
If you like Evil Eye, take a look at:
|Publisher:|| Duality Press |
Grace Kimble is a tough-as-nails ex-cop who has just ended
up on the lam with Greg Tonell, an ex-movie-star and action hero.
Grace is an ex-cop because she became a vampire and is currently
presumed dead; Tonell is on the lam with her because he is
(falsely) accused in the murder of a late-night talk show host who
was also really a vampire. The talk show host was really murdered
by Grace, who thus feels responsible for Greg's predicament and
allows him to tag along. But this is just the start of their
journey, as Grace shepherds Greg through the deserts outside Vegas,
down to Mexico, and back up to San Francisco.
Things seem like they may be getting better when they meet
Dr. Standish, a researcher who is studying vampirism and looking
for a cure. He's still years away by his own admission, but at
least he's come up with a name for the strange virus which causes
the disease: vampories. Meanwhile, Grace and Greg's lives get
even more complicated as threads and plots twist and turn to lead
to a shocking conclusion.
Taut action writing at its best, with the vampire angle being used
more as merely one more element in the overall plot than as the
centerpiece. Grace is a totally believable, violent and foul-mouthed
vampire hunter, and Greg is a frustrating screwup of an
ex-movie-star. It's entertaining and totally realistic to watch the
two of them pal up as they try to escape from murder charges and
deal with the consequences of their actions. If not for the vampire
element, this would be a tense action-thriller; add in the vampires
and you have a nice fantasy backdrop -- on a tense action-thriller!
Art ©1999 by Mike Iverson
Mike Iverson's simple art uses a lot of greytones, which helps in
dealing with the night scenes necessary for a vampire book. His
layouts tend to be excellent, especially in the critical action
scenes. Inking is somewhat rougher, with line thickness varying
occasionally in a distracting way; but the characters are well-defined
physically and anatomy is excellent. Overall, a great job!
Vigil is a long story that runs through many series. It starts with
the TPB, which collects the first six or seven comics. The next
few episodes were published by now-defunct Millennium comics
and have not been reprinted, but the story picks up again in
Scattershots 1 and 2, then leads into the eight-issue Bloodline series.
Luckily, the missing stories don't contain much of consequence,
so skipping them doesn't hurt the readability of the series at all.
Bloodlines is over for the moment, but given the conclusion (and
make no mistake, there's a definite conclusion!), you can be sure
Grace will be back before too long!
Vigil should appeal greatly to crime and action fans, like
readers of Stray Bullets, Kane, or Whiteout, as well as readers of
seamier Vertigo staples like Hellblazer and Preacher. Fans of
TV's Forever Knight, and fans of vampires and related comics,
like Vampire Miyu will also pick it up. Note that the language in
this series is quite coarse; Vigil is for mature readers only.
If you like Vigil, take a look at:
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