Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #114 by Drew Barth
I love legends—stories we tell about a location, leftover warnings about the dangers of certain roads and houses at night, and the spooks and ghouls that inhabit those spaces long after their welcome. Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Fanquiz, and Tamara Bonvillain stitch together those old legends with other horrors that hop in the shadows in Proctor Valley Road.
Cousins August and Rylee are joined by friends Cora and Jennie in a quest to save up enough money for a Janis Joplin concert in Chula Vista in 1970. The friends steal and perform grunt work before the realization that cashing in on local legends may be their best option. After bringing three guys to Proctor Valley Road in their VW Bus, they recount the legends and haunts of the road.
Then the monsters arrive.
This is slow and subtle work with the kind of creeping horror that sticks with you long after the first issue closes. It’s also another series from Morrison at Boom! that foregoes some of their more psychedelically violent visions seen in series like Nameless and Happy! in the past.
While Morrison and Child’s script sings with spooks, Franquiz’s art grounds the series in its time and place—not to mention Bonvillain’s colors that establish her as one of the best and hardest working colorists in the industry next to Matt Wilson and Jordie Bellaire. Throughout this first issue, the time and timbre of the story are set by Franquiz’s paneling—you can feel the spatial awareness of each page and how those page turns become scene changes. Those transitions let the slow, creeping horror gain its foothold as the eyes never panel-jump to spoil what’s coming up. Coupled with character details as rich as their fine dialogue, this first issue is already one of the best of the year.
Proctor Valley Road likely would have been one of my favorite first issues this year even if it didn’t have the local lore that I love so much. A new Morrison story is always welcome, especially when it’s buttressed by creators like Child, Franquiz, and Bonvillain.
Get excited. Get on the road.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.