It’s my first day back on the grind after two weeks holiday. When my alarm went off at 5:20 I considered my usual pre-work rituals and found that a two mile run was out of the question. Instead I stayed in bed for 30 minutes looking at Tumblr, and discovered Bleeding Heart and The Glass Scientists. Best decision of the day.
Bleeding Heart is a 28-page black and white comic by Sabrina Cotugno that tells the story of Robert and Henry, two young scientists-in-training staying in a cabin on the edge of a vast and dangerous forest. One night they find an injured werewolf collapsed on their doorstep and have to decide what to do – heal it, or let nature take its course. It’s a stand-alone story, but the plot and tone make it feel like the introduction to a bigger tale.
Surprise! That’s actually precisely what it is: two weeks ago, Cotugno launched The Glass Scientists, a web comic for which Heart is clearly the prologue. Scientists is only six pages deep as of today, but it’s cut from the same cloth, werewolves and all, and definitely worth following.
Once I managed to get out of bed, I bought the Bleeding Heart PDF to peruse on the train. It was a fun read and deftly established the tone and slightly steampunk-y, supernaturally wilder alternate history of Cotugno’s storytelling world. The artwork was wonderfully expressive (particularly the werewolf’s reactions) and the greyscale colouring works in the story’s favour, adding a suitably dreamlike quality to the weird and bloody midnight visitation.
My only complaint is that the lettering seems to be set in Comic Neue, a remastered version of the world’s worst typeface. Maybe only font nerds like me will be bothered, but it was a jarringly modern (not to mention yucky-looking) lettering choice for a comic that otherwise successfully establishes its spooky old-world bona fides.
Font pedantry aside, I’m honestly delighted by what Cotugno’s creating. I’m not generally big on the steampunk asthetic, but in the pages I’ve read I don’t see superfluous brass fittings or Victorian affectations, I see the introduction to a cool story richly told. The werewolf stuff is great, the art is lovely to look at, and I can’t wait to read more.
Heart was the subject of a Kickstarter campaign in August 2014, where it raised 2,234% (!!!) of its funding goal, and it’s now available for purchase digitally and physically. You can read a 4-page preview below, and then continue on with The Glass Scientists at your leisure.
Long live Morcant!