Writer/Illustrator: A. Rasen (@rasencomics)
Editors: Paul Jun, Gray Alakotila
Assistants: Gray Alakotila, Ivan L. Negrell, Dr. Closure, Isabella Am, Ivana Nedic, Ichsan Ansori, and Diana Mecolini
WHAT IS IT?
GremoryLand is a thrilling take on classic teen-slashers that is dripping with terror and tension, as a murderous theme park aims to turn a day of fun into a one-way trip.
Think Saw meets Hell Fest (with a spark of R. L. Stine aesthetic for good measure).
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
When an influencer is invited to a new theme park called GremoryLand, she brings her friends along for a day of thrills and excitement. The park is quick to reveal its true nature, though, as the rides’ dark themes, blood-covered walls, and murderous mascots aim to make their lives a living hell. Each attraction proves itself more deadly than the last and the group quickly realizes the only way out of the park is to go through it.
Automatons with pistols, impossible mazes, and a creepy marionette are just the tip of the iceberg as GremoryLand aims to unravel their sanity and end their lives in the most gruesome ways possible. There’s no escaping your past in this dark, psychological horror.
Rasen understands horror. From the perfectly balanced use of well-loved cliches and sub-genres to the incredibly effective villains and traps, his story is a master class of what makes horror so enticing. Fans of both classic slashers and modern thrillers will feel right at home in the park.
He has an unapologetic brutality that almost betrays the slightly cartoonish style of the mascots and Gremory himself. Rasen pulls no punches with this dark narrative he has conjured up.
The art is in a realistic style, which adds to the tension and stress of the story. The gruesome moments are viscerally authentic and the sense of motion and urgency in the character’s movements instills dread and anxiety. Everything is done in a way that feels worthy of a summer blockbuster.
The use of varying fonts and text styles creates an easy-to-follow narrative, with wispy text for distance whispers and sharp sound effects that increase tension, the emotions of the characters are thoroughly felt and understood.
Even with the large group of assistants and editors, there is a perfect continuity in tone, format, and style. Everything flows with consistency.
With believable attractions, the setting of the park is not only claustrophobic but cinematic. Each panel is oozing with dark tones, blood, and unease.
The diverse cast is developed well. They have a varying set of personalities that both subvert and fall into the expectations of their “teen-slasher film” roles. There is enough of what's expected to satisfy those who love their tropes and plenty of moments for them to rise above what is typical and add some freshness to the genre. It’s an expertly done balance that feels nostalgic.
Horror fans will love the references to famous horror films scattered throughout the comic.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Suggested for mature audiences. Contains disturbing imagery, heavy/triggering topics (such as bullying, abuse, and death), graphic violence, sexual themes, and strong language.
There are a few areas where the writing sometimes does not come across cohesively (there were a few speech bubbles I had to re-read a few times, but this may be due to Rasen’s native language being Spanish. It does not take away from the narrative in any way, but it does slow down the pacing some).
There are some issues differentiating when a flashback starts and ends. There isn’t always a clear definition of when a transition happens, as some of them start with a first-person narrative (in a square text box) and some don’t.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Fans of horror will immediately be drawn into GremoryLand’s dark tones, wicked kills, and haunting atmosphere. The threats are simplistic and whimsical in design - as if Jigsaw worked at Disney - which only increases the unsettled feeling that comes alongside the increasingly brutal attractions. Rasen notes he takes influence from manga legends such as Junji Ito and Shin'Ichi Sakamoto, which is reflected in the lifelike and haunting illustrations used in his series. His sharp style, both written and artistic, will stick with you long after you put the comic down. You can feel the visceral terror and desperation coming from the main cast as they traverse the park, and the underlying mystery of it all is gripping.
There is a great respect for horror showcased in this comic, from the cinematic approach and the way the panels are illustrated to the skin-crawling deaths, reading GremoryLand will make you think twice about your next theme park visit. Season one consists of thirty chapters filled with non-stop thrills and kills, alongside a shocking cliffhanger for season two. Utterly horrifying in all of the right ways, GremoryLand feels like it would be right at home amongst the echelons of Blumhouse and James Wan.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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