Reviewd by AD Boorman 8 September
- Fantasy Killer Issue 1 of 4
- Written by Kevin Hock
- Artwork by Leigh Jeffery
- Part One: This is My Life
Despite having little professional experience, they have produced a polished and professional effort, with consistently good artwork and above average writing.
The basic premise is almost the Hamlet of serial killers. Alex McCormick is underpaid computer repair tech working for the 'Einstein Squad' of a local computer business. He is desperately unhappy at his job, and his personal life is not that great either. He has little job satisfaction and few friends. He dreamed that adult life would be better - meaningful, challenging, exciting, or at least somehow tolerable. He grew up to discover that it was none of the above. This discovery, combined with the simmering rage and desperate anger of disaffected and disappointed youth, is driving him to the edge of sanity. He is starting to lose touch with reality, and he finds himself in violent revenge fantasies. He soon begins to find himself in a worse place - is he acting out those fantasies? Is he a murderer in his fantasies, or is he a killer in reality?
This is an interesting premise - a young man being driven mad by the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,' finds that he may be turning into a psychotic killer. This is a different type of horror. Instead of a masked maniac savaging local teenagers with various farm implements, we are watching a human being - a character to whom everyone can relate - sink into madness, uncertain and afraid that he may be turning into a monster himself.
Hock's writing is well structured. He consistently uses a first-person limited viewpoint. Neither the narrator nor we know what is reality and what is fantasy. This is a strong central conceit for a comic. There is decent exposition, and the seeds of the protagonists rage are clearly and persuasively presented. The rising action, as Alex continues to endure the petty abuses of authority and the thousands of tiny assaults on his dignity that are all part of modern life. We watch as he begins to disassociate - disconnect from others and from reality. Hock's writing here flows quickly. He maintains control of language and plot through the character's swings between cynical apathy and smoldering anger.
The artwork is intense. Jeffery's skill is still somewhat unpolished, but the raw talent is unmistakable. She emphasizes faces and close in details over backgrounds and externalities. Sometimes, it is a bit difficult to follow her action scenes, but her characterization of the main character is intense and powerful. Her characterization ventures in the direction of caricature, but she resists the temptation to carry it to that extreme. Going back over the story at some points, the reader may wonder if this is the artists intention - is the caricature meant to be an indication of burgeoning mental instability? If so, then Hock could have supported her with dialogue that lead to that point. There are limits to what the reader can infer from brand new characters in a brand new setting.
Her use of color is a strong point. She uses different colors the way a musician uses leitmotifs to certain moods and emotional contexts of the character. She has created a dark world, full of shadows and empty space. Her use of blood is restrained, making it easy for her to convey shock and violence with minimal effort and no gore. Her restraint is an asset. She manages to draw great effect from facial expressions and details, rather than going into blood-drenched tableaux.
If this were a major label comic, from known writers and artists, it would be disappointing. IT IS NOT. This is the very first issue of a comic by a new and untested creative team. Hock and Jeffries are fine raw talent, strong and intense, but needing practice, refinement and encouragement. With time and practice, they will hopefully fully realize their creative potential. Given that this is a completely independent creator-owned comic, it is an amazing achievement, worthy of praise and encouragement.
They are looking for a publisher and/or distributors, and readers of independent comics should hope they find one soon. This talented creative team does not have a website yet, but the comic has its own Facebook page. A lot of people complain that comics are all about meaningless violence, and that there are too few comics that really explore the nature of violence. This comic is a meditation on the nature of violence and rage, on sanity and anger, and on maintaining or losing control. This comic should appeal to those who like A VOICE IN THE DARK, another fine and underappreciated comic.