Happy Day-After-Halloween! When half of your city is still under water, it kinda puts the damper on any spooky festivities you had planned. Luckily I was provided with a new horror comic to chew through, which, for better or worse, is still very much with the season of the day. New in hardcover from Raw Studios is an adaptation of Thomas Jane’s (The Punisher, Hung) Noir film, Dark Country, which I can pretty much safely say no one saw with its extremely limited release. It does have the distinction of being the first movie filmed in digital 3D, but I tried by best to not hold that against the comic.
The story is a simple one, and perhaps one told before with elements pretty typical of a Twilight Zone feature. A newlywed couple of suggestively low repute drives down a deserted a deserted back highway at night and strike a figure standing in the road. They place the injured man in the back seat and presumably seek out a hospital when he viciously attacks the driver, spurring him to bludgeon and bury the disfigured ghoul on the side of the road. Obviously he ain’t done with them yet and blah blah blah leads to an admittedly decent twist ending.
Some things you should know: Dark Country is completely “silent,” as in there’s no dialogue or narration. None. To be honest, B-movie dialogue usually does little for the films anyway (Jane himself writes in the afterward that the first 10 minutes of inane conversation in the original picture were more or less boring as shit and was added to stretch the movie to a studio-demanded 88 minute run time) so I applaud the skewed “quiet,” that instead of putting the reader at ease, forces a kind of active participation and imagination. It was sort of fun to insert your own dialogue, which I would have to guess is at least as good as that in whatever shitty horror movie came out this year.
A purely visual story places an obviously heavy burden on the artist. Thomas Ott through his scratch board style, produces a really good telling of a story, but perhaps not the greatest comic. Even though I liked it, I couldn’t get passed the feeling that I was reading a very detailed storyboard for a movie instead of a graphic novel. Ultimately this it makes it difficult to appreciate the comic as a stand-alone work, though maybe it is the subtle purpose of the adaptation to nudge readers to see the movie. I still should mention Ott’s really enjoyable artwork. His black panels are oppressively claustrophobic in a kind of excellent and persistently creepy way. The impression that he darkness is only just held at bay by the flickering and ultimately feeble light is with you throughout the 70 page graphic novel and keeps you feeling as helplessly trapped as the silent, harrowed characters within.
It’s a pretty creepy story with some pretty interesting art, so I’d have to support anyone who decided to give the hardcover a shot. It does contain some cool extras like an afterward by Jane discussing the process of making the film and his vision, which I really enjoyed. There are also some film extras and “inspired by art” that was fun. If anything, the book was successful in making me want to check out the film, which also stars Ron Perlman.