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'Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees' #1 is a great psychological horror
IDW

Comic Books

‘Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees’ #1 is a great psychological horror

‘Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees’ #1 will release in comic shops on October 18th.

Stories have an incredible power to show us uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous things that can make you feel enlightened because of their unique perspectives. I pondered that as I read Patrick Horvath’s Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #1. The title is purposely unsettling, particularly striking when paired with the idyllic art style featuring cutely drawn anthropomorphic animals as its main characters. Set to debut in comic shops on October 18th, this new six-issue series will capture your interest with its unique take on a serial killer whose life is upended.

In a day and age when villains like Cruella de Vil are being humanized, and their evil nature is explained as misconceptions, reading Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees is a breath of fresh air. Not unlike Dexter, Horvath is taking us into the mind of Sam, a bear who lives in a small town and seems to be loved by everyone. They’re calm, collected, and harbor a secret. They need to kill to satisfy a kind of thirst.

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The fact that all the characters are animals with five fingers wearing human clothes melts away after you read a few pages. They aren’t wild animals in the slightest, but regular people going about their lives with average jobs and average lives. Horvath captures the facial expressions well, never failing to make you sense the denseness of a character or the calm caring of Sam. When we meet a goat who forgets things within seconds, we get the sense he’s beloved amongst the town because of it. In many respects, the cute animal creatures make the violence all the more disturbing, saying something in an age when gore and violence is commonplace.

'Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees' #1 advance review

That duck bro is making the wrong choice.
Credit: IDW

It’s a good thing the cover features Sam dragging a bloody sack, as the endearing art style will assuredly confuse parents who hand this comic to their kids. This comic is certainly not for children, but it’s not necessarily because of the gore, more the main character’s unnerving, calculating, and cold internal monologue. I found Sam riveting, partly because he calmly explains his need to kill as if it was the need to breathe air or drink water. It is in his nature. There’s some interesting world-building going on that I won’t spoil, but Sam’s nature seems to be very much not normal, even if he’s a bear.

I could see some argue there are familiar tropes at work here. That includes how Sam lures a victim into their clutches or the very idea of following the goings on of a serial killer who has figured out how to function in society. Would this comic work if the characters were rendered as human and not anthropomorphic? I’d argue yes, but that’s not the point. The anthropomorphic look adds to the layered psychological horror while giving us a new interpretation of a serial killer story with its visuals. It reads as a unique and valid take on the subject matter.

Adding to the shock value of murder in this issue is the extremely pleasing watercolor art style. The art is akin to something you’d find in a children’s library, with a nice use of pastel colors giving it a cheery and angelic feel.

Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou draw you into Sam’s thoughts with captions that look like they’ve been torn from a manilla notebook. There isn’t much fuss about the word balloons and lettering within, making a “Crank” all the more shocking.

If IDW Originals continues to put out comics like Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees, many Eisner Awards are in their future. Horvath and Otsmane-Elhaou create a truly unique experience following a serial killer whose way of life is upended. There’s a cool and calculated feel to the pace and character work, akin to Silence of the Lambs, which should rocket to the top of comics fans’ top ten lists of 2023. A great read for the psychological horror fan who wants something different.

'Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees' #1 is a great psychological horror
‘Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees’ #1 is a great psychological horror
Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #1
If IDW Originals continues to put out comics like Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees, many Eisner Awards are in their future. Horvath and Otsmane-Elhaou create a truly unique experience following a serial killer whose way of life is upended. There's a cool and calculated feel to the pace and character work, akin to Silence of the Lambs, which should rocket to the top of comics fans' top ten lists of 2023. A great read for the psychological horror fan who wants something different.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
An endearing visual style that juxtaposes well with the subject matter
You'll feel like you're inside the head of the killer
There seems to be some interesting world building going on, particularly when Sam leaves the forest
10
Fantastic
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