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‘Blackwood:’ Advance Trade Paperback Review

Just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy all of the spooks and scares of Blackwood. Investigate the strange, unusual happenings of the occult through the lens of some troubled college kids on a campus of nightmares.

Blackwood is a horror/mystery comic released by Dark Horse. This trade paperback collects a perfect, little four-issue arc that comprises the entire series up to this point. Whether they make more is uncertain, but if they do not, then this would act as the complete series collection. Blackwood tells a concise story that will leave you satisfied, and with all of the supplemental materials, you will get more than your money’s worth. Personally, I found Blackwood to be ever strengthened by its ability to tell a terrifying story, with characters we care about, that does not take itself too seriously.

At its absolute core, Blackwood is a story of finding meaning where there is none. It is the struggle we all must face when learning to lean on others for help and understanding. This is Wren…

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Wren is a badass. She trusts no one and will sooner kick your little butt then make small talk. She’s rude and full of secrets of her own. She is one of the many protagonists of the story, and like any good protagonist, she will start in one place and end in another. Blackwood’s characters all exhibit this beautiful motif which is as relevant to “boring life” as it is to “comic book life;” change or suffer the consequences. Much like most of our college experiences, this story is full of hard lessons taught by a series of traumas that just do NOT let up.

Blackwood is written by Evan Dorkin who is known for his Eisner Award-winning Beasts of Burden. If you have read his other work, then you are aware of his predilection towards the occult and Lovecraftian monsters in all of their drippiest, nastiest, soul-sucking fashion. He certainly doubles down on his affection for tentacled fear mongers, and I am not complaining. I am a fan of this aesthetic, but reader, beware: There is some nasty stuff in here. If you are triggered by the comeuppance of overconfident college kids, then stay away.

Veronica Fish, whose name is apropos considering all of the aquatic, sinuous, squid-like terror-givers, captures the tone of this story brilliantly. The art is gruesome in the boldest and most colorful way. It breathes camp into a story that very much needs camp to complement its sometimes hilarious script. Below is a great example of a single frame that includes a beautifully drawn ghoul among some freaked out twenty-somethings. Take notice of the hard edges and bold lines that divide each individual piece of the image:

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There is something about this style of art/coloring that screams horror/comedy. It’s as if the creators are saying, “We want you to see everything.” Seeing everything leaves less up to the imagination, thus serving two masters. The first master being horror. (Obviously, just look at that ghoul!) The second master being comedy. (Look at those scaredy cats!)

At the end of the day, Blackwood is a fun read. The tone is reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the characters are just as memorable. If you find yourself sitting alone in your room, completely void of all scares, and positively dying for a jolt, then look no further than Blackwood. It is the holiday spook-a-thon you need to give that belly full of turkey something to think about.

Creative Team: Evan Dorkin (writer), Veronica Fish (art), Andy Fish (art)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Click here to purchase.

Jeremy Schmidt, Fanbase Press Contributor



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