TOMB OF THE WHITE HORSE
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Writer: Ian Mondrick
Art: Benjamin Æ Filby
WHAT IS IT?
A horror/mystery comic that takes place almost entirely in a single warehouse with a small cast of characters.
It's a little like Oculus, but maybe with a dash of Whiteout and Raiders of the Lost Ark in there. But with all the horror stuff out there, it's still hard to place Tomb of the White Horse – it's very much its own monster.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Sam, Noah and Taylor work in a warehouse. Sam seems like he's our protagonist, but all we know about him is that he supervises the other two men and that it's his first day back at work after a funeral.
Whatever happened, it hit him hard. As we find out more, we find out how true that statement is.
And of course, on his first night back, a strange, large package shows up unexpectedly. Who sent it? What's inside it? Who's supposed to receive it? Any attempts to answer these questions only lead to more questions...or horrific answers.
First of all, Tomb of the White Horse is a near-perfect comic. Cover to cover, Tomb of the White Horse impresses with tight storytelling, skilled and suspenseful line art, and a clear creative vision everyone on the team is simpatico in working toward.
The thing I love most about Tomb of the White Horse is its pacing. As the story slowly reveals more and more, the tension only escalates. The pace is perfectly balanced to great effect, so it never feels too fast or like a slog to get through. Plus, it makes room for horror elements and character development throughout, telling a single, well-rounded story.
The aforementioned reveals are sometimes small, and often carried well by Benjamin Æ Filby's deft line art and Lesley Atlansky's haunting colors. As I said, the entire team works well to tell this story. It's not just the dialogue that you need to pay attention to, not just the writer moving the story forward (though it never really is in comics). These pieces fit together as we get more context throughout the story, but may just seem present as part of the comic's horror stylings until you get the full story toward the end of the comic. Needless to say, I loved the complete picture these puzzle pieces made by the comic's close.
Filby's a powerhouse of talent, as showcased beautifully in this comic. A lot of the perfect pacing mentioned earlier is an art thing as well as a writing one – from reveals on page turns to even a small black panel used as punctuation or a palate-cleanser between scenes, the pace parses out each moment to the greatest effect. His ability to shift to a completely different style and execute it at a high level for some of the scenes was a more-than-pleasant surprise, and his use of light, shading, and silhouettes played no small role in driving the story's drama and tension.
Anyone who watched the last Fantastic Four movie knows it can be hard to tell an engaging story with a small cast stuck in a dark warehouse, but the story within is dangerously compelling through Mondrick's dangerously compelling story, Filby's masterful use of Point of View (especially in a certain 7-panel sequence or another juxtaposition of two panels that feels very Iain Laurie-inspired), Atlansky's soft glows and sparing use of red, and letterer Zakk Saam's condensed balloons that play up the claustrophobia of the warehouse and the supernatural events around them.
Surprisingly, there's no cursing! There are definite horror elements, but if you're looking for a deeply unsettling comic that doesn't have cursing or sex in it, this is the perfect comic for you.
Last, I want to give a shoutout to the credits page. Having Twitter handles here is helpful to critics, but it also shows when readers can get in touch with the creative team, which is really cool and appreciated.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
I only had two small nits to pick, and they seem nearly unimportant contrasted against how good the comic is. However, they did take me out of the narrative for just a second, so I feel that they're worth noting. The first took place between two characters grappling. The point of view from one panel to the next gets flipped, violating the 180-degree rule. Especially coupled with a lighting change, we don't know who's who for a second. It may have been intentional, used to play up suspense in the moment, and it's cleared up a second later, but the confusion still may take readers out of it for a second.
The only other issue is that the typeface chosen for sound effects toward the end of the issue seemed a little too "fun comic-book-y" for the gravity of the comic's events. Not everyone can do custom, hand-drawn sound effects, I get it, but I wonder if there was a better pre-made font option out there.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Tomb of the White Horse is stunning. I don't mean that in the sense of the throwaway adjective people substitute when they think something "great." I mean that in the way that, when you're reading it, everything else around you fades and you sit there, entirely enrapt in the story and suspense until the story is over. And, when it is, you're still sitting there in stunned silence, thinking about it.
Tomb of the White Horse is a triumph of horror. Make sure you don't miss it.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Corpus, by various creators
Earworm by Rick Quinn, Milton Lawson, & Martyn Lorbiecki
Scratcher by John Ward & Juan Romera
If you like the art:
Dilara: Warrior Sorceress by Amy Tipper-Hale & Benjamin Æ Filby
Sweet Heart by Dillon Gilbertson & Francesco Iaquinta
Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ian Mondrick – Writer
New Face: Though he has experience writing for anthologies, I think this might be his first full-length comic.
Benjamin Filby – Illustrator
Multitalented: Has also written comics, as well as done editorial illustration, graphic design & storyboarding for clients
Enjoys trying to "explain the unexplained" and dealing with "the weirder side of things" with his art.
Lesley Atlansky – Colorist
Multitalented: Also has experience in painting and graphic design
Zakk Saam – Letterer
Inspired by Nate Piekos/Blambot, Clayton Cowles & Dave Sharpe
Dream Team: Worked with Magdalene Visaggio and Harry Saxon on Sex Death Revolution & Vagrant Queen
Danny Lore – Editor
Danny Lore is a queer editor & writer from Harlem & the Bronx
Multitalented: They also write comics and prose! Check out Queen of Bad Dreams and the run of James Bond they're co-writing with Vita Ayala.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
Tomb of the White Horse recently funded on Kickstarter. Keep an eye out for the creators on the convention circuit for physical copies, or reach out to them on social media if you're interested in when copies will go on sale to the general public.
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 Ian Mondrick & Benjamin Æ Filby characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Ian Mondrick & Benjamin Æ Filby or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED