In July 2011 I posted about one of the first Kickstarter projects I ever contributed to: Anathema. The goal was to fund the illustration, colouring and printing of issue #1 of a werewolf comic that writer Rachel Deering called “a return to classic horror in comics”. Now, seven months after that post, and five months after the project surpassed its Kickstarter goal, the first issue of Anathema is circulating among Kickstarter contributors. I got my claws on a PDF and sat down to read it yesterday, during a break at work.
I’m going to leave the formal analysis of Anathema to people who actually know how to review comics – I’m just a werewolf fan with a blog. Instead, because I’m a silly git, I decided to live-tweet my reading, making (spoiler-free) comments on every page of the book. I’ve reproduced those tweets in chronological orders, and I’m going to let this stand as my formal review of the book.
Time to read @racheldeering‘s Anathema! Even the intro on the inside of the front cover gave me chills.
I’m gonna live-tweet this reading, page by page, omitting spoilers. Page one: okay, dad’s a dick. Lovely colours, though.
Page 2: Authentic emotional response to characters I just met. Great panel layout. Dad’s going to need some Bactine!
Page 3: First overtly supernatural incident. Intense but not too dramatic. Love the time-shifted narration. That’s flame-resistant hair!
Page 4: Third segment of this page expresses her isolation perfectly. Well done Chris Mooneyham.
Page 5: I want to live in Henrich’s house and visit his manicurist.
Page 6: Jeez, what a drama queen.
Page 7: UGH that TONGUE. Put it away, dude!
Page 8: Great colours and lines. Any of these panels could be posters. Nice work explaining the crows, too.
Page 9: Any of these could be levels in a Zelda game that I would play the fuck out of.
Page 10: Great character design. Brilliant work to tie the plague doctor’s mask concept into the design. The glow around the moon!
Page 11: Come on, Henrich, give up the goods. Also, you look like Christopher Lloyd. This is not a bad thing.
Page 12: Where can I get me some of those?
Page 13: Come on, at least freshen the linen. Nice transition out of the scene.
Page 14: I probably shouldn’t be reading this at work.
Page 15: When Anathema gets made into a movie (as it inevitably must), this’ll make a great little nasty sequence.
Page 16: Part of me is disappointed that there’s no “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” moment.
Page 16 cont’d: I’m impressed with how solid these characters are. Henrich could’ve been a 2-D quest-giver, but he’s richer than that.
Page 17: Holy fuck, lady, where’s your climbing gear!?
PP 18-19: BAD. ASS. A lot of werewolf fanboys (and a few werewolf fangirls) are going to pin this spread over their beds.
Page 20: Immediate thoughts: this would be a great video game, either 1st-person slasher or 2D side-scroller. I like that she mentions pain.
Page 21: PRIMAL. “As I, myself, become the object of fear.” This is exactly what I love about horror and werewolves.
Page 22 / last page: Great setup for the next issue. This isn’t a cliffhanger, this is a gun, loaded and cocked.
So, yeah. Verdict on Anathema, issue 1? Basically, you need to buy this thing as soon as you can, and then we need to fund the other issues.
Go follow @racheldeering and pester her to sell you a copy – she’ll have some pretty soon, I think. DAMN, I’m all riled up!
So, while that wasn’t a proper review, over the course of 25 tweets, I exclaimed over the quality of the writing, the art, the colours, the characters and the layout (and, come to think of it, I meant to mention the lettering too). I also said that Anathema would make a great film or video game, and although I didn’t tweet about it, I pitched a little fit when I got to the last page because it’s over and I need more. The book was a terrific effort by writer/letterer Deering, artist Chris Mooneyham and colourist Fares Maese, and I think Kickstarter contributors (and fans of horror comics in general) are going to love it.
I want to take a second to expand on my comment about page 21: This is exactly what I love about horror and werewolves. The “this” I’m referring to is the vicarious indulgence of a particular blend of righteous fury and macabre glee that I think horror fans (and most people in general) are familiar with, even if they don’t want to admit it. Articulated as a thought, it might go something like “I want to do terrible things to people who deserve it, and suffer no repercussions.” Act so in real life and at best you’d be a sociopathic asshole, but channel that desire into a fictional vessel like Anathema’s grieving anitheroine (or the miserable little brother from The Wrong Night In Texas) and you’ve got werewolf therapy – a wonderful outlet for a very dark but very human urge. This is one of the things I’ve always loved about werewolves, and although not every werewolf story manages it, Anathema delivers.
So. Er. If that sort of thing sounds good to you, or if you just want to read an awesome werewolf comic where a lady fights werewolf-style for the soul of her murdered lover, watch Rachel Deering’s Twitter profile for Anathema issue #1!