There’s nothing more frightening than a smile drawn by Andrea Sorrentino. Obviously, the smiles in issue 16 of Gideon Falls carry a lot of weight and context, as Jeff Lemire throttles the story forward in one fell swoop.
As the last issue focused on Father Wilfred and Dr. Xu in the city of Gideon Falls, this issue focuses on Norton Sinclair and Sheriff Clara Sutton in the country town called Gideon Falls, and they share a strong emotional tie. The fact that, as a reader, I was drawn immediately into this reveal that happens basically at the beginning of the issue shows from month to month how invested I’ve remained and how ingrained into my psyche it has become.
This is a story about multiple realities, the fabric that holds them together, and the evil inside that wishes only to get out. A strange doorway called the Black Barn is the entrance and exit point for our heroes into this nightmare world inhabited by the smiling man, but the smiling man can’t use it. This is where Norton Sinclair come in within this issue.
Andrea Sorrentino has a way of easing you into the madness of every issue until you’re simply engulfed by it. His panels begin relatively simply – six to nine images laid out in a very traditional format – and then he slowly starts to dismantle it: a panel tilted here, one twisted there, until there’s nothing solid to stand on. It’s such well though out visual storytelling, such psychological warfare on the reader, that it’s difficult not to be entranced. It’s difficult not to be terrified. Once Dave Stewart’s transcendental colors come into play, you literally cannot feel normal by the end of the issue. You can’t get it out from under your skin. It’s like when you’ve had a bug crawling on you, and for the rest of the day you feel those bugs on you. And I tend to read these issues before going to bed.
As Lemire continues to draw the different elements of this story together, the talents of these creators truly begin to take flight. There are so few series out there that handle surrealism with as much emotional weight and psychological gravity as Gideon Falls.
Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Dave Stewart (colors), Steve Wands (letters), Will Dennis (editor)
Publisher: Image Comics
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