First off, before I even talk about the horror graphic novel Harbor Moon (from Arcana Comics) I want to get a couple business items out of the way: (1) If you send me a link to an on-line comic, I’m unlikely to read it. It’s the same with music submissions: I’m simply too busy and too mobile to review material on an internet connection. (2) If you send me a .pdf of your comic book, I’m more likely to read it, but the odds are still stacked against you. (3) If you send me a hardcopy, I will definitely check it out and, if I like it, I’ll review it.
Especially if it’s as beautiful as Harbor Moon.
Now, it might sound strange to call a comic book that features monsters “beautiful” but Pawel Sambor‘s shadowy panels are at the same time colorful and too dark–murky and bright. It reminds me quite a bit of Bill Templesmith, or Bill Sienkiewicz’s work on Elektra. And yes, that is high praise. This work is worth buying on the art alone.
Story-wise, it’s a horror book with a familiar foe that is able to infiltrate ordinary townsfolk. Yeah, that narrows it down to vampires or werewolves, pretty much, and I’m not going to give away which. Readers probably won’t find the story challenging, but that’s not really what we look for in a horror work, is it? We look for writing that allows the art to tell the story, mostly, and we look for build-up. Suspense. Enough lack of clarity that we feel disarmed while we go, and that’s certainly here. Some of the characterizations could use a little tightening up, but that’s the kind of thing we’d expect to come with experience, and this is Ryan Colucci’s first foray into comic books. Based on Harbor Moon, I’m more than willing to give him the opportunity to grow.
Just look at the page to the left, and you’ll get a good feel for the book. Artistic horror. The panel layouts are often interesting and unconventional, and because this is a true graphic novel (and not a compilation of single issues), we are treated to ample splash pages and spreads, and we get a story that is willing to breathe and take the time it needs to develop.
And while I’m here, I want to give recognition to Arcana Studios. They’re doing some very interesting under-the-radar work there, with “100 Girls” (about, yes, 100 girls, who were bred with special powers); “The Matriarch” (about a single-mom superhero); their undercover cop book “The Fix” (which I haven’t read, but have looked at it and it looks terrific); and a host of other various titles that have tremendous breadth and depth. They’re out of Canada, and if your local comic book store doesn’t carry their titles, ask for them.