Writer: Martin Hayes
Artist: RH Stewart
Publisher: Blue Fox Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A tense, supernatural mystery that fills the reader with unease.
Think Paranormal Activity told as a gritty crime story.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
All is quiet on Hob's Lane until a couple stumbles upon an unconscious homeless man. Upon further examination, the man has been killed in a gruesome and shocking fashion with nearly half of his body destroyed. Doug, a local policeman, comes the next day with his partner to examine a body when he notices a disheveled-looking man staring at the crime scene from their window.
Doug goes to investigate and discovers the man at the window is John, someone Doug had helped three months ago after John’s wife was murdered in a mugging. John recently quit his job and moved to Hob's Lane to escape the reminders of his wife. Doug offers to help him once again, but he angrily refuses. That night, John is awoken with terrible aches and what happens next shakes him to his core.
Hayes’s dialogue instantly displays the personalities of each character. Doug’s snappy, sarcastic dialogue shows how unfazed he is by the violence he sees. John’s dialogue is withdrawn, but his profanity-laced outbursts suggest a deep trauma.
Stewart’s artwork truly displays his proficiency and adaptability. He uses rounder lines and unique proportions for most of the book which gives the story an instant sense of mystery, but he also utilizes sharp angular lines for an intense ending.
In addition to lines, he provides stunning colors. His use of primarily blues and yellows for the more dramatic moments makes the reader feel uneasy and gives the story a surreal feeling that contrasts nicely with the scenes with more realistic coloring.
The excellent art required masterful lettering by Paul McLaren. He expertly follows the flow of the art and directs the eye in a very natural way without covering important aspects of the artwork.
The story varies its pace greatly, slowing down for the more suspenseful and emotional moments to ensure they hit harder. Martin truly makes the ending teem with dread and anticipation by stretching it out.
Heightening the mystery and unease are the unique panel configurations. The best moments in the book are where the panels deviate from standards, going in diagonal directions, being extremely skinny, or bleeding into one another.
The team’s collective efforts work well together to evoke some strong emotions in readers.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: The book contains some graphic violence and nudity that could be a turn-off to certain readers.
While the details within the story are interesting and pique a reader’s interest, there’s not a lot of plot in this issue.
Some minor details, like Doug’s profession, for example, are implied rather than shown in the book, making some things unclear.
Due to some dialogue-heavy panels, and those panels having thinner shapes, the lettering covered good chunks of the art in a few spots.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Horror movies have the luxury of using sound and sudden movements to build anticipation and create scares. In comics, the best ones evoke feelings and dread in the reader, which the team of Hob's Lane greatly accomplishes. The writing, art, and lettering work in perfect tandem to create a prolonged sense of unease as the reader traverses the mystery within. The first issue doesn’t reveal a lot, but it excellently sells the feeling that something bad and beyond the character’s understanding is happening. The ending especially draws one in and makes readers eagerly want the next installment.
The artistic choices really make the contents of this book feel holistic. The paneling goes outside what’s typical to great effect and the coloring says so much about which parts of the story have more going on than what’s shown. Overall, it's an excellent example of what great collaboration looks like and why comics are unlike any other medium. This book is great for horror fans or anyone who enjoys something a little bit different. It’s especially for anyone who enjoys solid content from independent creators.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Wastes by Martin Hayes & RH Stewart
Abominable Glory by Martin Hayes & Chris Askham
Cognetic by James Tynion IV & Eryk Donovan
If you like the art:
Mister Misery by Julius Ritter & RH Stewart
Sinners by Simon Burks & RH Stewart
Wasted Space by Michael Moreci & Hayden Sherman
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Martin Hayes (@martinhayes) – Writer
Prominently in the indie sphere, Martin has also written the graphic novels Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Wastes and Abominable Glory.
He is also a writer of short fiction and has had work published in multiple collections.
Martin hails from Ireland.
RH Stewart (@hutesonroy) - Artist
A seasoned veteran, Roy has been creating comics since 2009 crafting art for the graphic novel Mister Misery as well as several series and anthologies.
He provided background art for the comic series Collider which was adapted into an Emmy nominated film in 2013.
Roy has been a part of multiple successful Kickstarter campaigns.
Paul McLaren – Letterer
As a letter, Paul has contributed to multiple projects including Unseen Shadows, Boudicca, and Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Waste.
He grew up with Mark Millar and drew his first comic project before starting his career as a police officer.
Paul currently resides in Afghanistan.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Hob's Lane recently funded on Kickstarter. Keep an eye out for how to purchase it in the future.
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Hob’s Lane characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Blue Fox Studios or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.