Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #169 by Drew Barth
The Walls Have Eyes
How much has happened in your home? How much has your home noticed what you’ve done? Although it can’t speak, your home likely has had thoughts about you. But what would it say, your home, if asked? Sloane Leong and Anna Bowles take us into the perspective of a home in their new graphic novel, Graveneye. And while the home does tell us all, it is not one to judge its inhabitants—the home simply gives us its story.
Graveneye is the story of Isla and Marie, the owner and the new maid of the house, respectively. From what we see, Isla is a private woman, even going so far as to avoid Marie as much as possible when she is first hired. The house, however, bears witness to everything—Isla’s bestial tendencies most of all. As Isla hunts, skins, and taxidermies in the basement of the house, Marie is left cleaning and caring for the upper floors while unaware of what happens below. But their time together grows long and the pair become closer—Marie leaving pieces of herself in the house while no one is looking but the house itself. The house becomes a respite for Marie as she comes by with fresh bruises and marks that attempts to cover with sweaters and makeup. And it is after some time that Isla shows Marie what she is and helps her become something more.
It is through the ink tones and red that Bowles crafts throughout that we see the uncanny nature of the horror within the house. There is a visceral quality to these pages in which we can almost feel the substantive blood or viscera, but they act to weigh their scenes. The vast majority of this book is in black and white watercolor with these cuts of red that serve to highlight objects and bodies. But it isn’t always the viscera—panels are occasionally bathed in red around Isla as she enacts some kind of violence. Or around Marie as she receives. These pieces of red offer an emphasis. The eye is drawn directly to those moments as their own curiosity on the page in the beginning of the story. They give detail and purpose to objects and moments. Until the red spreads and takes over the panels and the house itself.
Graveneye is the kind of story that looks at horror from a different perspective. There is love and desire on the page—either via the house or Isla and Marie—but we’re given this outside view from the inside via the house itself. It acts as the static stage, offering no judgment or opinion on the acts inside itself as it knows only the love it feels toward Isla. The house simply is. Isla and Marie simply are. And what Isla does in the basement of the house is simply what she does away from prying eyes.
Get excited. Get inside.