by Gabriel Hardman
Gabriel Hardman, known for Kinski and Invisible Republic, among many others, tries his hand at horror with the one-shot book The Belfry. It’s something that’s not only very different for him, but almost extremely disturbing and weird. It’s one of those one-shots that works so perfectly in its own little bubble and it’s a great bite-sized snack before you jump into something else on your reading list.
Hardman’s story is eerie. Like, really eerie. Plane crashes, full human-sized vampires, and disturbing, dark panels. It’s like Gabriel Hardman sat down to write this story and thought, “Maybe I’ll just write the creepiest, craziest story to really mess with people.” And then he did. Seriously, The Belfry combines tons of fears into one effort and then Image Comics just slyly hands it to you with a snicker. You’re in for a ride, here. It’s a quick read (it is a one-shot after all) and probably requires two readings to really absorb everything, though it really won’t get any less creepy. In fact, it might be more creepy the second time around.
And the art, oh man the art! Hardman cranks it into high gear from the first, awkward angle panel. It feels playful, for a comic so serious and horrific, the way that Hardman lays out his panels and chooses to angle the “camera” in each panel. It still has the same Gabriel Hardman signature; dark, black shading–almost à la Mignola–subtle colors and of course excellent character designs. Even the lettering feels almost experimental. From the bubbles to the words themselves, it’s all excellent. Hardman really steps up and plays it fast and loose here. Image gave Hardman the ability to do whatever he wanted here and he certainly made the most of it.
The Belfry is a killer (you’ll see what I did there) one-shot book from a stellar comic book creator. Gabriel Hardman is a top-tier talent, and this was a nice deviation from what you might normally see from him. It’s eerie, creepy, bloody, and brutal; it just might be everything that you’d want in a one-shot horror comic. The Belfry is out February 22nd and if you already like Hardman’s work, or even if you’re new to it, this is an absolute pick up. Very little investment for a very cool comic. Now to plan my next trip on a bus, because forget airplanes.