Writers: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari, Alexandria P. Molinari & Roberto Xavier Molinari
Artist: Ramiro Borrallo
Publisher: Black Caravan (Scout Comics)
WHAT IS IT?
A spooky adventure where two children rescue abused animals
Think Wendell & Wild meets Frankenweenie.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Two years ago, Lexi and Nico’s father and brother died and gained the powers of the Shepherd, one who can walk between the worlds of the living and the dead. Since then, these powers have been passed on to the siblings from their father. Now they use them to help the dead find peace.
The two are having a lazy evening when they are beckoned by the ghost of a bruised and bleeding dog named Sparty. They sense that the pooch wants them to follow, so they fake falling asleep to sneak out later that night. On the way, Sparty explains that something bad happened and that there are others like it. Little do they know, these siblings are about to witness the darkest parts of man.
The Molinaris tell a suspenseful tale with plenty of action while also exploring the importance of empathy.
The cartoonish style of Borrallo allows for some striking contrasts between the intense and mundane moments in the story. Tonally, it feels like watching Scooby-Doo: Zombie Island for the first time again.
Likewise, his coloring immediately signals the emotionally-heightened sections excellently. While most of the book sticks with browns and blues, the ending’s sudden wash of sickly greens makes Lexi and the ghost dogs quite menacing.
Rodriguez uses a variety of balloon styles that commendably depict the different types of voices and narrators in the story. There is a moment where Lexi switches to wavy black balloons with green strokes and text that is cohesive with the art and adds to the scene’s tension.
The artwork is respectful of the dogs and careful not to be too gory when depicting their abuse. The art is balanced enough to be spooky without glorifying the harm they’ve endured.
The sound effects utilize colors from the surrounding artwork making them present but not taking up too much space.
One page, in particular, uses a creative layout with dream-like gutters surrounding a close-up of the main antagonist’s face. It is gorgeously creepy and serves a function for the story well.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: This book contains depictions of animal cruelty.
At times, there’s a bit of dissonance between the art style and the story. The art wants to be aloof and cartoony in moments where a more serious approach would be better.
The Shepherd: The Pit detracts significantly from the previous stories in regards to story and style. Fans of the series might not like this story’s lighter horror and smoother art style.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
The Pit is a different direction for The Shepherd series, both story-wise and artistically, but it maintains the core sentiment: that empathy and helping one another is deeply important. While previous installments have fantastical narratives focused mainly on Lexi and Nico’s family, this one broadens their horizons by having them help out man’s best friend. Through these two’s journeys, the reader sees that caring for the lost and departed is not just a human endeavor. It can be extended to any living creature. At the same time, the story’s main antagonist shows the importance of seeking out others’ experiences and toils to truly understand their pain. The Pit doesn’t dig as deep, it’s emotional beats as The Valentine, but its message still lands solidly.
At first, the change to a more abstract cartoon style wasn’t to my taste, but it grew on me the further I read. By the end, it felt like the natural choice for this story. The tasteful, colorful art grounds the story excellently. Its simplicity matches the story’s simplicity beat for beat but isn’t afraid to knock the reader over the head with juicy, horrifying drama when it is needed. It feels like a more mature Scooby-Doo with lots more to say.
Fans of the series who want the same meat with a different seasoning will love The Shepherd: The Pit.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Shepherd: The Valentine by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari, Robert Xavier Molinari & Ryan “Score” Showers
The Shepherd: The Path of Souls by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari, Robert Xavier Molinari, Jess Hara, & Kyle Huston
Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh
If you like the art:
Nobody’s Child by Massimo Rosi & Ramiro Borrallo
Deadfellows by Kody Hamilton & Ramiro Borrallo
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Andrea Lorenzo Molinari (@TheShepherdCom) – Writer
A. L. Molinari is a theologian with over a decade of university teaching under his belt.
In addition to writing, he is the Editorial Director of Scout Comics and has served as editor for Amigo and Caliber Comics.
Molinari has several books published covering a range of theological topics.
Alexandria P. Molinari – Writer
Roberto Xavier Molinari – Writer
R. X. Molinari is A. L. Molinari’s son.
He is currently developing an illustrated fantasy trilogy with former The Shepherd artist Jess Hara.
Ramiro Borrallo (@RamiroBorrallo) – Artist
While he primarily works with Spanish publishers, Borrallo has contributed art for books published by Scouts Comics, Behemoth Comics and Caliber Comics.
In addition to interior art, he has also contributed multiple covers for books published by Amigo Comics.
Borrallo hails from Spain.
Joel Rodriguez (@MNinjaStudios) – Letterer
Rodriguez has lettered books for Scout comics, Antarctic Press and Caliber Press and is the letterer and production designer for indie comics publisher Merc Publishing.
He is also the writer of the Dusk County Chronicles series which was funded on Kickstarter.
Rodriguez is the owner of Metal Ninja Studios and co-owner of Brink of Reality productions.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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 The Shepherd: The Pit characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Scout Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.