I’m Aaron, and after a spooky holiday season, I’m back again to bring you your next favorite digital read (hopefully)! Please, if you have any feedback, leave it here in the comments or contact me on Twitter (@Sully_Writes). And as always, if you have or know of a webcomic that you’d like to see reviewed, reach out and let me know!
Summary: Emily Carroll has written more than one horror webcomic (available on her website), so reviewing one of her works seemed like an obvious choice for the day after Halloween. Of the options, I went with His Face All Red, a webcomic about a man who kills his brother, only to see him return from the grave. In this review, I will talk about Carroll’s work, but also about some of the qualities in comic book horror that I admire, especially in the indie scene.
Story: The plot for His Face All Red is incredibly simple. I did not choose it for its twists, or creativity. I chose this comic as an example of prime webcomic horror because it hits the mark with accuracy and poise. I have always believed that horror (in any medium) exists at its finest as a short, complete story. Simplicity in horror is the mark of a creator that understands it. Something knowable is affected by something strange and unknowable. The brevity of the short story, or mini comic, only aids the mystery. Here, and then gone. No questions answered, no closure given; only that nagging curiosity in the back of your mind. A curiosity that instinct tells you is dangerous.
So while His Face All Red might not be blazing new trails? It’s an example of how to create something that reads like iconic horror, without falling into all the gaudy trappings that modern horror does.
Art: There has been a trend lately in indie horror that errs towards a more innocent, “cartoonish” sort of vibe. I discussed this over a year ago, when I reviewed the now famous Harrow County #1 by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. I noted then that the innocence of the art made it almost more unsettling than gritty or realistic gore. I am uncertain what the exact reason for this trend is, or where (or when) it began, but I am certain that it is an effective way to communicate horror. The fable-esque nature of the art makes it feel more genuine, more honest. This art is not trying to trick you, is not trying to masquerade as realism.
In this specific work, the art is fantastic. The style is perfect. The colors feel dismal without being especially muted. There is a quality to the comic that makes it feel personal, and very very old.
Conclusion: While I did not speak entirely the webcomic, His Face All Red, in this review, I do want to take this moment to say that it is a fantastic (and quick!) read for those who are fans of the horror short story. Check out this comic, check out Emily Carroll’s other offerings, and remember to support webcomic creators whenever you can. Their products might be free for us, but they were an investment for the creator. They give us gifts, and it would be kind of us to return the favor.