Writer & Illustrator: Maria Llovet
Publisher: ABLAZE Publishing
WHAT IS IT?
A woman takes a metamorphic journey into a dollhouse in Maria Llovet's psychological horror comic.
Porcelain embodies the atmosphere of a twisted thriller like the Dollhouse television show and the film Incident in a Ghostland.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Beryl lives in the desert with her beloved black cat, Raubritter and a disappointed mother figure. Life in a dilapidated house on the side of a desert highway doesn't bother Beryl. Simply, Beryl lounges around outside with Raubritter and only appears to leave her home for a walk down the road to the store.
After completing an errand, Beryl hears a song drifting over through the desert landscape. Unable to resist the lilting lullaby emerging from a rolling cart decorated with skeletons and mannequins, Beryl and Raubritter locate the melody's source. Awe strikes Beryl as she stumbles across the cart, now transformed into a physical building. A sign reading "Dollhouse" adorns the house with skulls and doll parts affixed to its exterior.
What horrors will Beryl find once she steps inside the dollhouse?
Maria Llovet's limited use of dialogue harbors a bewitching effect. Words hold an equal amount of thematic potency as the visuals as Beryl navigates life in Porcelain #1. Therefore, succinct and direct dialogue are essential in sustaining the comic's tone.
Llovet imbues her art with magical realism attributes. Although the horror imagery climaxes toward the end when Beryl encounters the dollhouse, Porcelain opens on a page inferring gothic horror sensibilities. Disquieting imagery threads throughout the comic even before the dollhouse comes back into play.
Earth-tones ground Beryl in the desert-setting of the real world. Otherwise, green, red, and black colors connect Beryl to both her normal life and the dollhouse.
Once Beryl crosses the liminal boundary between reality and magic inside the dollhouse, hues become more pronounced. White doll faces look ghostly, obtaining a haunting luminescence against deeper scarlet and obsidian colors.
Speech bubbles never inhabit much space. Characters speak minimally, their words appearing small with a script-like font as to not distract from the art and movement on the page.
Blood and a torn-out heart smatter the wall as a porcelain-hued doll woman observes Beryl stoically against a black background on page 1. The scene then cuts to a panel showing Beryl's ramshackle house in the desert. Each scene takes on an immutable mystique of horror through glamorized and unglamorized imagery.
Llovet's comics showcase young women, curious about sexuality, freedom, or psychological awakenings. In Porcelain #1, the theme of freedom is crystalline and joyous to partake in as a reader searching for meaning (myself).
Protagonist Beryl feels constricted at her home and carefree ambling along the endless desert road with her cat. Searching for more freedom, the implausibility of the dollhouse seduces Beryl, ironic when she finds herself trapped in yet another house.
Curiosity killed the cat, goes the idiom. Let's hope Beryl's curiosity doesn't kill her -- and her adorable feline friend, Raubritter!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Macabre horror lurks inside the pages of Porcelain. While not grotesque, Llovet's art proclaims a sinister, unsettling vibe with potential for scaring certain readers. Also, if creepy dolls scare you, run far away from this comic!
Like Llovet's EROS/PSYCHE, Porcelain #1 adopts a slow-burn, quiet method of storytelling. This debut issue picks up the pace right before ending on an abrupt cliffhanger in expected single-issue style. If you're a reader who enjoys comics better in trade format, you may want to wait to read the collected edition.
(Mild Spoiler:) Readers watch the dollhouse enchant Beryl. A snake-split tongue takes both Beryl and her cat inside. The scene makes it unclear whether the house also hypnotized Raubritter, since the cat could have run away. This is a minor grievance and more a question about the nature of the magic system (which I'm sure will evidence itself in subsequent issues).
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Maria Llovet's work, regardless of the genre, takes on a mystical quality. Porcelain taps into primal horror while maintaining a poetic aesthetic, enchanting readers. The quiet atmosphere in the comic amplifies the effect of Llovet's mostly wordless, unsettling imagery. Llovet's illustrations juxtapose jarring terror with simplistic mundanity, carving the path for a riveting reading experience.
Porcelain #1 constructs a mystifying story in one issue. Visually, the comic's pacing resembles a heartbeat, elevating in tempo until Beryl's world shatters like a porcelain doll around her. You enter Beryl's headspace and are emotionally taken inside the dollhouse with her.
The small grievance I have with Llovet's comics as they release in single issues for the first time internationally is simple: Waiting for monthly issues to resolve each cliffhanger distresses me. Porcelain #1 tantalizes almost too well. I would check out a creepy dollhouse too if I saw Maria Llovet's name etched into a sign!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Eros/Psyche by Maria Llovet
Heartbeat by Maria Llovet
Dead Dog's Bite by Tyler Boss
If you like the art:
Faithless by Brian Azzarello & Maria Llovet
Luna by Maria Llovet
The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Maria Llovet – Writer & Illustrator (@m_llovet)
Multitalented: Maria is both a writer and an illustrator on the majority of her projects.
Name Recognition: Her distinct art style is instantly recognizable in a number of comic series, including Luna, Eros/Psyche, Heartbeat, and on the acclaimed erotic horror series, Faithless.
Outlander: She hails from Barcelona, Spain.
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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 Porcelain characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Maria Llovet or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED