Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #41 - October 1999


Evil Eye

Publisher: Fantagraphics
Writer: Richard Sala
Artist: Richard Sala
Cover Price:$2.95
Frequency:every 4 months
Issues Available:4

Storyline:

At the remote Lone Mountain College, a nebbishy photography student gets an unexpected gig: he's hired to just photograph a professor. Surprised at the simplicity of the assignment, the young man is soon caught in a web of intrigue, and finds himself being "assisted" by his hyperactive ex-girlfriend, Judy Drood, who insists on investigating anything that seems at all unusual.

That's really quite a bit at Lone Mountain. Lately, a string of disappearances has taken a decidedly more sinister turn and a series of murders has begun, as the faculty of the college meet in secret to discuss a little problem they're having. It seems there's someone up in the college tower...

Writing Review:

Wonderfully creepy plotting and a colorful mix of characters make this book a solid winner. Following on the heels of his successful Chuckling Whatsit trade paperback, Richard Sala goes back to the well for more of the same juicy stuff that makes him the 90's king of gothic mystery. Each character is sharply defined, from cowardly college boy Kasper Keene to dynamic investigator Judy Drood, from the scheming Professor Larva to the curious Auntie Azalea. The criminals (or at least those with mysterious intentions) far outnumber the heroes in this plot, but the bad guys provide the bulk of the mystery and fun in this lovely labyrinthine puzzle box. Each issue also contains a backup story, a self-contained little vignette in the life of an odd teenage goth girl, Peculia, and the fantastic life she lives.

[ panel from Evil Eye ]
Art ©1999 by Richard Sala

Art Review:

I'm sure these comparisons have been made hundreds of times before, but they bear repeating: Charles Addams meets Charles Burns. If I had to give a "high-concept" description of Richard Sala's art, I'd say he draws like Edward Gorey attempting to etch a Magritte picture while Chester Gould adds characters into the foreground. Sala's people are simple and clean-lined. Good guys look normal, even pretty, while bad guys are by and large oddly shaped. Meanwhile, the backgrounds are full of dark etchings of staircases, corners, and bookcases. Meticulous detail to background shadings in dark recesses adds an eerie air to even the most benign setting, and gives Evil Eye the creepy atmosphere it holds so well, without overdoing it or overpowering the reader.

Audience:

Evil Eye is an excellent choice for readers of other Goth material, including Lenore, Scary Godmother, and Johnny, the Homicidal Maniac. Its intriguing mystery will also hook fans of Whiteout, Sin City, and The Trespassers. People who liked Sala's gorgeous animation on MTV's seminal Liquid Television will love his comics work, as will fans of lighter fare like the Fear Street books, or classic comics noir like Baker Street or V For Vendetta.

If you like Evil Eye, take a look at:


Vigil

Publisher: Duality Press
Writer:Arvin Loudermilk
Artist:Mike Iverson
Cover Price:$2.95
Frequency:Bi-monthly
Issues Available:10

Storyline:

Grace Kimble is a tough-as-nails ex-cop who has just ended up on the lam with Greg Tonell, an ex-movie-star and action hero. Grace is an ex-cop because she became a vampire and is currently presumed dead; Tonell is on the lam with her because he is (falsely) accused in the murder of a late-night talk show host who was also really a vampire. The talk show host was really murdered by Grace, who thus feels responsible for Greg's predicament and allows him to tag along. But this is just the start of their journey, as Grace shepherds Greg through the deserts outside Vegas, down to Mexico, and back up to San Francisco.

Things seem like they may be getting better when they meet Dr. Standish, a researcher who is studying vampirism and looking for a cure. He's still years away by his own admission, but at least he's come up with a name for the strange virus which causes the disease: vampories. Meanwhile, Grace and Greg's lives get even more complicated as threads and plots twist and turn to lead to a shocking conclusion.

Writing Review:

Taut action writing at its best, with the vampire angle being used more as merely one more element in the overall plot than as the centerpiece. Grace is a totally believable, violent and foul-mouthed vampire hunter, and Greg is a frustrating screwup of an ex-movie-star. It's entertaining and totally realistic to watch the two of them pal up as they try to escape from murder charges and deal with the consequences of their actions. If not for the vampire element, this would be a tense action-thriller; add in the vampires and you have a nice fantasy backdrop -- on a tense action-thriller!

[ panel from Vigil ]
Art ©1999 by Mike Iverson

Art Review:

Mike Iverson's simple art uses a lot of greytones, which helps in dealing with the night scenes necessary for a vampire book. His layouts tend to be excellent, especially in the critical action scenes. Inking is somewhat rougher, with line thickness varying occasionally in a distracting way; but the characters are well-defined physically and anatomy is excellent. Overall, a great job!

Audience:

Vigil is a long story that runs through many series. It starts with the TPB, which collects the first six or seven comics. The next few episodes were published by now-defunct Millennium comics and have not been reprinted, but the story picks up again in Scattershots 1 and 2, then leads into the eight-issue Bloodline series. Luckily, the missing stories don't contain much of consequence, so skipping them doesn't hurt the readability of the series at all. Bloodlines is over for the moment, but given the conclusion (and make no mistake, there's a definite conclusion!), you can be sure Grace will be back before too long!

Vigil should appeal greatly to crime and action fans, like readers of Stray Bullets, Kane, or Whiteout, as well as readers of seamier Vertigo staples like Hellblazer and Preacher. Fans of TV's Forever Knight, and fans of vampires and related comics, like Vampire Miyu will also pick it up. Note that the language in this series is quite coarse; Vigil is for mature readers only.

If you like Vigil, take a look at:


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