The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus, Chris Shehan, Jason Wordie, and Jim Campbell
Horror graphic novels are in a great position to make art. Horror is, in my opinion, best with visuals. As much as people love atmospheric horror novels you just cannot beat a gory movie or a solid jump scare. Graphic novels are able to incorporate the visuals without having to worry about the cost of CGI or practical effects.
I’ve enjoyed many horror comic books and The Autumnal is no exception. It takes a rather basic story and injects new life into it. It spins the ending around and brings in an empathy that many horror stories forget to include.
The plot is simple, a mother and daughter move from Chicago to a small East coast town to start their lives over. Kat Summerville, mother, has inherited her own mom’s house after her passing. The small town they’re moving to boasts of the prettiest autumn. Odd flex, but I do like crunching leaves so I get it.
Although everyone in the town seems to know of her mother nobody seems to be mourning the loss. In fact, Kat doesn’t seem to be mourning her much either. The townsfolk keep alluding to the leaves being dangerous and to watch out for some witch. You see, this is the classic small town with a dark secret in its past.
Many American East coast towns have ties back to the witch trials, setting a horror story in this context is hardly original. The originality of The Autumnal comes from how the family deals with these strange supernatural spooks. They’re attempting to move on from their own past but their roots want them to stay in place.
As the mother and daughter get deeper entangled in the story they begin to believe it more. Should they leave town before it’s too late or should they embrace their family ties and go deeper into the woods? The final decisions made at the end make this graphic novel what it is. Special.
The art is full of autumn colors, oranges and yellows, and some delightfully creepy imagery. Horror is told through emotions. Horror cannot exist without fear, grief, loss, and the desire to go on. Images help tell that story, sometimes words fail us in our darkest moments.
The Autumnal may start down a well beaten path but when it veers off into the forest it becomes its unique self. Give it a shot, perfect for a chilly day with a breeze scraping branches against your window.
4/5 autumn leaves 🍁🍁🍁🍁
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If you like The Autumnal check out Sweet Tooth
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