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 Killing Pickman #1, which was published by Archaia and is cover dated August 2007. This scan is from the hardcover volume published in 2011. Enjoy!
Killing Pickman is a decent story about a cop who catches a serial killer … and then discovers that the serial killer is a lot worse than “just” a serial killer. It originally came out in 2007 but caught up in the Great Archaia Implosion of circa ’07/’08, so it wasn’t released in its entirety until last year. It’s pretty good, though – you should check it out!
Jason Becker and Jon Rea do a nice job with this first page – it’s not extremely scary, but it is very unsettling, and that’s not a bad thing. Becker simply puts one caption box on the page, but the plaintive “Hello, is anybody home?” juxtaposed with the drawing makes it a terribly sad line, even if we don’t know who the speaker is or why the speaker is saying this (it’s the cop, by the way, knocking on the door of the killer’s house, although of course he doesn’t know it’s the killer yet). Becker also adds the headline-syle line at the bottom of the page – there’s a lot of this in the book, with odd stuff in the margins, and I know Rea adds quite a lot, but this feels more like Becker put it in there to give us an idea of what’s happening in the story.
Rea designs the page very well. The focal point is obviously the girl, and Rea puts her in the spot where our eyes would probably fall first when we open the book. She’s a tragic figure – Rea makes her hair disheveled, and the simplicity of the face, with the black dots for eyes and the small, downturned mouth, help create this idea of loneliness and despair. Rea draws the shadow behind her, which is where it should be, giving the light source on the page, but it still looks as if the shadow is trying to swallow her. She’s looking at the candles, and her gaze draws our attention to the candles and the pentagram on the floor. This helps imply the fact that Richard Pickman – the killer – is something more diabolical than a “simple” serial killer. It’s interesting that a pentagram has become such a staple in popular culture that Becker and Rea can probably assume that a reader will know that it’s connected to calling up demons. The girl’s gaze also drags our eye to the headline at the bottom, so we can figure out that she’s been kidnapped (if the rest of the scene didn’t tell us that) and that she’s not a singular victim, but part of a pattern. As our eyes move to the right, we see the caption box, and Rea does a nice job with the design of this part of the page. He didn’t letter the book (Matt Talbot did), but I wonder if Rea put the caption box there. What this does is help draw our eye upward, and the line formed by the girl and the caption box leads us up to the stain on the wall, which we immediately infer is blood. It’s a horrible image, because it’s so high on the wall it looks even weirder – who was up there? – and the trail downward implies that quite a lot of blood was spilled. The balance of the page links the girl to the blood, and makes us worry even more about her fate. The entire book is “colored” in these gray scale tones (except for some very rare red), which makes it more gloomy, especially when Rea blurs the rest of the room as we get further away from the girl.
For such a stark page, this is really well designed. It’s a good way to lure in the reader, I believe. You might disagree!
Next: A cult classic! Everyone loves cult classics, right? I’m sure there are some in the archives somewhere!