Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be showing pages that are either scary or are part of “scary” issues (as scary as a comic can be, of course), because it’s October! Today’s page is from The Veil #3, which was published by IDW and is cover dated September 2009. Enjoy!
El Torres and Gabriel Hernandez (who started using the “Walta” in his name for some reason when he started working for Marvel) produced a couple of good horror comics over the past few years, and The Veil is the first one. None of the first pages are too scary, but this one’s pretty creepy, so let’s check it out!
The narrator, a woman named Chris, can see dead people, as she lets us know in Panel 4. Torres begins the page well, setting the tone nicely with Chris’ narration about things not staying dead, which links into the rest of the story. To me, “something hatches” sounds very creepy – there’s something about the word “hatch” that sounds freaky, probably because insects hatch, and insects are horror staples. Of course, using “something” is also good, because who the hell knows what it will be, right?
Then Chris explains a bit about seeing ghosts and how little fun it is, especially when they come “in bunches.” She then tells us we’re in a place called Crooksville, where bad things are happening. She, more than most, knows that she doesn’t want to be around when the “something rotten” hatches. Torres does give us some good information about Chris and her problem, sets the scene, and also sets the mood, which is always important in horror stories.
Hernandez does a good job with the art, too. The top three panels are clearly a carcass attracting flies, a cliché in horror but one that works if done well. The stark white background contrasts with the messy red of the dead thing, and it helps show the gathering of flies well. Of course, linking the insects with the word hatches promotes this creepy feeling, which is the point. This is a scene that we’ve all seen in our lives, so it’s mundane … except when it’s in the context of a horror story, which is when it becomes more sinister. Then Hernandez shows us a larger scene to show us where we are – it’s a normal town (because that makes the horror worse) and Chris is driving a normal beater. Even in silhouette, we can see that she’s leaning forward, looking for something. What, we don’t know. Hernandez also gives us this scene to tie the top tier and the bottom panel together – in the first three panels, we have no context for what’s happening, and then we see the car in Panel 4. We still don’t have context for the first three panels, but then Hernandez shows us the dead cat underneath the car, and it pulls the entire page together. The top tier isn’t just a symbol of decay and horror, it’s actually part of the scene, as Hernandez shows in Panel 5. The cat is creepy, too – yes, it’s dead, but because he draws it so the face is looking out at the reader, it’s almost accusatory, as if we ran the damned thing over ourselves and didn’t care. The placement of the tire means that we can’t just move past it – we have to stop and consider it, and it’s a far more horrific image than at first glance. Hernandez colored this comic, too, and he mutes most of the tones – the blue sky is blunted and darker, while Chris’ car is a sickly rather than vibrant yellow. Crooksville itself looks sick, from the dirty houses to the twisted trees to the nauseating sidewalk. The dead cat becomes a symbol – not a terribly subtle one, but still – of the decaying town. It’s the last thing we see before we read that Chris thinks she needs to get out of town, and Hernandez and Torres link the final word on the page – “rottenness” – with the image of the dead cat. Before we even turn the page, we’ve been set up by the creators. They don’t do anything too innovative, but if you’re going to use clichés, at least use them well! Both creators do that on this page.
The story may or may not be your cup of tea, but at least Torres and Hernandez try very hard to get you into the issue! That’s always nice to see!
Next: How about another series from these dudes? Why the hell not? If you’re not interested in that, you can always take a peek at the archives!