Spooked

I sought out this older graphic novel because I so much enjoy Ross Campbell‘s art (as seen in Wet Moon). It was a worthwhile quest.

Writer Antony Johnston has often worked with crime, horror, and suspense, and here he blends the three in the story of artist Emily Spook.

She’s a kind of medium, able to host and converse with spirits. It’s unsurprising to note that she considers this a curse more than a gift, but it’s the way her character is slowly developed through conversation and art that makes this an enjoyable read. Campbell’s character designs make his creations solidly real, which helps immensely in making this ghost story more plausible.

Simon Firth has been leading a coven in conversing with spirits. (Given how often Johnston’s worked with Alan Moore, rewriting his work and otherwise, I admit I found all the magician stuff secretly amusing, especially when they were acting pretentious.) Now he’s dead, without a mark on him, and his ghost wants Emily to warn the rest of his group that someone’s after them. There’s also the mystery to solve of who’s actually behind the murder.

Campbell’s unique style is well-suited to telling the story of a painter; his work reminds me of “fine art” expressed as pulp genre. The lettering also supports the story in an obvious but subtle way: the ghost’s thoughts are lowercase lettering in raggedy tail-less balloons, while “real” people are traditional comic uppercase.

It’s a well-paced, engrossing story that moves along quickly, maintaining the suspense. One of the characters can be read as making a bit of fun of the ending during the conclusion, but that just added to the appeal for me, that it wasn’t too serious about its philosophy.

View preview pages at the publisher’s website.

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