This is the image that caught my eye several months ago on Haunt Space while clicking through the community gallery. According to the owner's profile, there was a website that housed her work but it was currently under construction.
Just last month, www.thezombified.com was brought back to life. Finally, I'd have a chance to explore.
There are four main Horror Girls characters: the Zombie (pictured right), the Mummy, the Vampire and the Bride. All of them are drawn in black and white and have that classic cute cartoon style - the kind I associate with stories and comic books of my youth.
As it turns out, the artist Krystal Fancey Beck (aka the elusive Zombie) does create a comic called Hallowhaus. At this time, there are two issues printed and ready for purchase. Krystal was kind enough to send me copies of each, so let me tell you a bit about them.
Hallowhaus is the tale of a newly undead girl, risen from the grave one Halloween night. She soon finds her way to the castle Hallowhaus, where she realizes she's not quite as alone as she'd thought.
In the first issue we meet our protagonist Zoey as she claws her way free from the grave to start her new life. With the help of a raven, she follows the path to Hallowhaus where she meets Jack, the resident pumpkin-headed scarecrow.
To see a preview of this issue, go to her blog.
I really liked the gradient-grey shaded image of the extinguished pumpkin at the start of the story with the textured bars contrasted in the background. Even more, I enjoyed the varied approaches to using white against black, popping details and conveying mood throughout the storyboard that followed. For example, there's an image of Zoey, fresh from the grave with the gravestone behind her, all in stark white. The rest of the space is completely black, engulfing her. It resonates the isolation and loneliness she must feel.
The techniques also kept my eyes moving, engaged, and smoothly scanning from one image to the next. Perhaps that's why I was keenly aware of their sudden absence in the second half of the comic. During Zoey's six page conversation with Jack inside Hallowhaus, four of the pages are simply the two characters against a static grey background. This was a bit disappointing. I'd grown accustomed to the trapeze-like movement of the page, my eyes being happily swung from one block to the next. The sudden flood of grey brought it to a standstill, which was oddly timed to me since we'd finally arrived at the main destination.
Sadly, there isn't a detail in sight within the castle (except for the fireplace mantle). No windows or portraits in the great hall (not even a nail in the wall or the dusty rectangular outline of where a frame may have been). No stone or tearing wallpaper. As far as I could tell, Hallowhaus was one big grey room lacking simple details like cracks or shadows to define it.
I immediately wanted them to go back outside where the imaginary world was alive with shadows and silhouettes.
Of course, I'm a detail-freak so chances are it may have stood out to me more than it would to the average person. And my annoyance at being deprived such details indicates that the author had successfully drawn me into this fictional world.
The plot of the second issue also focuses on introducing us to secondary characters, and gives us an overall sense of what the creatures are like at Hallowhaus (particularly through the repeated pizza gag).
Hallowhaus as a comic book is in its infancy, making it hard to predict how the storytelling and plot-focus will change once all the secondary characters are revealed.
In short, it's a straightforward easy-to-read comic with a female zombie protagonist (always a bonus). The cartooning has a sweetness to it that makes the characters endearing and friendly (plus they eat pizza).
I think I would have enjoyed Hallowhaus much more in my youth. The tell tale signs of my age is that one of my first thoughts was how child-friendly the comic was; that it's the type of comic I'd buy for a young ghoul (especially a daughter or niece) without any reservations.
Here's hoping the third issue of the comic includes more images inside the castle, allowing readers to not only become attached to the characters, but Hallowhaus itself.