Writers: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari & Roberto Xavier Molinari
Artist: Jaime Martinez Rodriguez
Publisher: Black Caravan (Scout Comics)
WHAT IS IT?
A horror fantasy mystery with a deep emotional core.
Think The Sixth Sense meets Nancy Drew.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
After the loss of her brother and father, Alexis has been struggling to keep it together. Seeing them somehow come back and visit her little brother Nico, but not her, hasn’t helped either. Everything has mixed up her emotions and she’s sure nothing will be the same.
As the strange happenings get stranger, Alexis is visited by more and more ghosts – one of them being Violet, a little girl who needs her and Nico to get something that once belonged to her mother.
Alexis was rattled before, but what she finds will rock her to her core.
Molinari & Molinari tell an introspective story that dives deeply into Alexis’s inner turmoil.
Rodriguez's line art is stunningly clean and photorealistic, making every emotion on a character’s face clear and intense. His balance of minimalist and detailed backgrounds makes each panel continually interesting.
Rubin’s use of greyscale, pinks, and reds gives the story a lonely mood and greatly enhances dramatic moments. The stark contrast adeptly directs the reader’s eye to important people and objects.
The book’s art is framed excellently largely due to Hopkins’ excellent balloon placement. No important details are covered up and the book is a smooth read despite there being a good chunk of silent panels.
Readers new to the series won’t be confused if they haven’t read previous stories. The book is complete and compelling on its own.
The team opts for mostly black and white backgrounds, making the few that feature lots of color truly stand out.
The story calls for very few sound effects, but the few that are present perfectly match the art style.
The ending has a marvelous twist that will horrify the reader and leave them hungry for more.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: There are depictions of graphic violence and discussions of child kidnapping that could be triggering for readers sensitive to that.
Certain scenes could have used some sound effects lettering to better depict the actions in those panels.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Grief and legacy are the driving forces behind The Shepherd: The Valentine. Through the eyes of Alexis, the reader gets a personal glimpse into the scramble of emotions that come from losing a loved one. Although Alexis knows everyone is hurting, she can’t help but feel left out when her younger brother gets to see her father and brother before her. It’s a wonderful, subtle nuance that shows how incredibly traumatic death can be and how it can cause one to cycle between sadness and resentment.
No other art style could have been used for this story. A dedicated photorealistic style allows every emotional beat to shine in the characters' faces while the limited color palette and heavy shadows do more to display Alexis’ isolation than narration ever could. It’s heartbreakingly gorgeous through and through. Any fan of emotional horror should pick up this book immediately.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Shepherd: Apokatastasis 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
Coraline by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
If you like the art:
Orbit: The Cast of Dr. Who by Paul J. Salamoff & Jamie Martinez Rodriguez
Wrath of the Titans: Revenge of the Medusa by Scott Davis & Jamie Martinez Rodriguez
The Nobody by Jeff Lemire
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.
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.
Jaime Martinez Rodriguez – Artist
Primarily an indie artist, Rodriguez has penciled for several small publishers.
He is also a drawing teacher.
Rodriguez hails from Spain.
Trevor Rubin – Colorist
Rubin has also colored Scout Comics’ Gods of Brutality.
DC Hopkins (@dc_hopkins) – Letterer
Having a prolific career, Hopkins has lettered for nearly every major comics publisher.
He is also a staff letter for AndWorld Design.
Hopkins publishes his own short comics on his website.
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 Valentine characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Scout Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.