Cartoonist: Shaun Gardiner
WHAT IS IT?
A steampunk horror graphic novel with a heavy atmosphere and unique design.
Think Silent Hill and Metropolis meet Edward Scissor-hands, with a little Go-bots in there as well.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A murder of crows befalls a city of industry and pollution. With more days come more crows until the rooftops are swarming with them and the citizens begin to worry that they represent some sort of omen. They do.
Destruction befalls the city almost as steps of a biblical plague, from a heavy, suffocating fog, to crushing, impossible waves, and finally to the coming of mechanical giants.
All of this sets the tone for a small boy in another town, Bobby, to begin his journey of heartbreak, desperation, and woe. After falling in love with a girl he cannot see, he sets out to find her and re-capture that feeling by any means. But will he be able to find her before his sanity slips away from him?
The atmosphere in this book is astounding. The oppressive weight of the industrial world is present throughout and weighs on the reader as heavily as it does the citizens.
Unlike most stories, this graphic novel focuses much less on people than it does its setting. This is hard to pull off, but for the most part, it succeeds. The strong attention to detail draws the reader in so the lack of characters never makes the comic feel empty.
Gardiner's art is sharp, detailed, and effectively dirty. The broad, smeared strokes mirror the grime and pollution of the setting and massively impacts the effectiveness of the book.
The murky colors Gardiner employs are oppressive and wonderful for the story being told. Though somewhat monochromatic, it elevates the art and never waivers from its tone.
The use of newspaper strips and headlines as typeface for important captions is effective and loud, creating a lasting impression in the book's larger moments.
Gardiner uses abstraction and repetition in strong ways throughout these issues. These techniques can often make a book feel pretentious and dull, but are executed with great care and expertise in this instance.
Gardiner wears his influences on his sleeve without feeling derivative. His style manages to remain unique and fresh even as the reader can see clear similarities and homages within the art.
Nearly poetic at times, Gardiner's writing makes much of the prologue read like something out of a Poe poem. It creates a nice flow and, again, adds to the ever oppressive and consistent atmosphere.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
This is a book of extremes and risks. Much of what works carries some baggage with it, most noteworthy being the typeface. While it sometimes works as bold and memorable, much of the moment-to-moment captions are hard to read with a small serif font.
Given the lack of characters, there are a ton of captions, which can make the pages and panels seem cluttered and claustrophobic.
There's a bit too much telling in the captions without adequately showing in the art. As a result, the reader can feel uninvolved in the story, which can get boring.
The story is aggressively grim. This comes down to personal taste, it obviously succeeds in what it's attempting to do, but if you're not here for that tone you won't have a good time.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Horror in comics is a difficult genre to get right. To see it done well is always a treat for someone who's into the genre. For all its ups and downs, The Boy with Nails for Eyes leaves an impression as a heavily atmospheric work of horror without ever relying on tired, conventional horror tropes.
As a concept and in execution, the comic is unique and intriguing. Much of what makes this comic work is in its risk-taking, which is important to reward and praise, particularly when it works. The comic is a little rough around the edges, but it's one of the few comics I've read recently that made me think about it days after I put it down. I haven't read anything beyond the prologue and first chapter, as the book is still being crowdfunded, so I can't yet speak about themes or payoff. However, this comic is definitely worth checking out and supporting if you have the cash and inclination. Personally, I look forward to seeing it release.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Filth by Grant Morrison & Chris Weston
Sandman by Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith, et al
Fearscape by Ryan O'Sullivan & Andrea Mutti
If you like the art:
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean
30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith
Wyches by Scott Snyder & Mark "Jock" Simpson
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Shaun Gardiner – Cartoonist
Outlander: Gardiner lives in the United Kingdom, but was born and raised in Bahrain during the Persian Gulf War, which inspired the graphic novel.
Multi-Talented: Aside from being a self-taught illustrator, Gardiner writes operas, video game scripts, and poetry and is awarded for them regularly.
New Face: Though Gardiner has been working on The Boy with Nails for Eyes for nearly fifteen years, this will be his debut graphic novel.
HOW DO I SUPPORT IT?
Click this link:
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 Gardiner characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Gardiner or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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