The haunted house horror story is a genre all its own and when a unique take comes along like The Me You Love in the Dark you stop and notice. Skottie Young and Jorge Corona recently spoke to me about the series, which kicks off this week. It’s actually a story about an artist trying to find inspiration, and one way might be to live inside a horror house. Probably not smart, but when you’re a lonely artist who soon might starve, what’s the worst that could happen?
The Me You Love in the Dark opens with Ro looking at a house to rent and taking it, haunted or not. After a few weeks of settling in, Corona and Young reveal Ro is finally going to give painting again a try. Armed with a glass of wine and a record on the player she begins…and it doesn’t go well. As she attempts to find inspiration day after day, a haunting shadow appears here and there. Things aren’t quite right. Ro thinks the pressure of creating more paintings that’ll sell is getting to her.
We know this isn’t the case, but Ro doesn’t.
Corona draws a great first issue, letting the house take up much of space in the panels. Ro is as much a character as this empty house. That emptiness makes the ghost appearances all the scarier. Just on the corner of a panel you might see something, say, or the big reveal on the last page frames things as if Ro may even be in danger. Panel work is also interesting as if there aren’t any gutters at all but instead, the panels are pasted in.
The colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu go for a realistic look, giving every shelf a bit of shadow and solid lighting to enhance the solitary nature of the interiors. Ro herself is colored well as if she herself is a shadow with her stark black hair and dark lipstick. The warm glow of sunset can nearly be felt in some panels, which turns to a foreboding purple.
Though it’s not immediately obvious how the work is used, David Stoll is given credit for a 3D model of the house. Clearly, a lot of time went into the design of the house, its high ceilings, and its many rooms.
As first issues go this book captures Ro very well along with her plight to make new art. The house itself is defined well by the visuals, although more could be done with the relationship Ro may or may not have with the ghost. As it stands, this reads like a solo story about Ro reacting to the ghost’s actions. The main hook of the series isn’t immediately obvious.
Props to Nate Piekos on the lettering which uses very long word balloon whisps which seems to help make Ro feel even more lonesome. It’s unclear if the music from the record album is Piekos as well, but its splattered look adds a horrific element to the sound. It practically looks like a spinal cord.
The Me You Love in the Dark #1 is an intriguing start to a story about an artist and their awareness the house they live in may really be haunted. For a book about an artist, this comic lives up to the quality of an expert painter through color and linework. Read this for the exceptional use of space within its panels.
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