I recently discovered the work of Richard Sala and I love it. His artwork style is unique and beautiful. Mostly he specializes in the horror genre. His artwork is simple and almost cute and yet he doesn't shy away from blood, gore and horrific scary scenes. This combo works surprisingly well together. He has become one of my favorite artist / writers in a short amount of time. The women he draws are beautiful too.
The world is overwhelmed by an unexplained catastrophe, and we follow a small group of shocked survivors as they head for a refuge in the desert. It could be a B movie plot, and is certainly gripping: but the characters are much more engaging and rounded, while the superb full-color illustrations give it a depth and melancholy atmosphere that puts it in a class of its own. And there are still several nasty moments and a twisty ending to keep you guessing.
Most of Richard Sala's works are a surprisingly satisfying blend horror and comedy. Here, the fun is downplayed; instead we have a dark and at times moving exploration of some meaty themes, such as the way the old and powerful in society exploit the young, or humanity's inability to learn from its mistakes. It's thought-provoking, at times uncompromising but ultimately hugely satisfying.
Most artists are collections of their influences and ideas; only a very few are purely themselves, with no admixture of anyone else. Richard Sala, I'd say, is in that select company. Oh, sure, his creepy graphic novels take place in worlds not unlike those of Edward Gorey or Gahan Wilson, but his characters are entirely different -- and Sala seems to have arrived in that neighborhood by entirely different paths.
THE HIDDEN is right in Sala's usual milleu, an apocalyptic story in which one tough young woman -- this time named Colleen, and darker-skinned and more sensibly-shoed than usual for a Sala heroine -- finds herself in the midst of supernatural horrors, deep secrets, and more than a few up-close-and-nasty deaths. This time, the apocalypse is sudden and all-encompassing: monsters burst forth on the second page, and the explanation (such as it is) doesn't come until nearly the end. But what does it matter why or how the world is ending? The time to worry about that is before it ends, and it's far too late for that in THE HIDDEN.
So Colleen, and her boyfriend Tom -- who wants to be strong, but young men never fare well in Sala's graphic novels -- were lucky enough to be out in the wilderness when the worst happened, and so are still alive and wandering. And they were lucky, or perhaps very unlucky, to run into a wild-looking man who doesn't know his own name. He leads them to a group of other survivors, and Colleen learns the monstrous secrets of their guide -- of the creature he created, long ago, and the race of monsters that creation has patiently made and now released on the world.
THE HIDDEN is even bleaker and more nihilistic than most of Sala's work; his stories usually end with a smaller evil -- a mass-murderer or criminal -- suffering a suitable end as the plucky girl escapes, barefoot. But there's no hope for humanity in THE HIDDEN, and little hope for the few people surviving at the end. That may be a consequence of the fact that THE HIDDEN is quietly a sequel to a famous book by someone else, but I should warn you: this book is dark and bleak even for Sala, and that's dark indeed. There are still hints of his mordant humor, and his precise lines and color washes are as ghoulishly appropriate as always -- but THE HIDDEN out-Salas any of the prior Sala books, which is an unlikely and impressive thing.
The world is ending and strange ghoulish creatures are killing people and razing buildings to the ground. The few survivors there are regroup in the barren desert and tell their stories to piece together what happened. And then the silent man in the group tells them something. He leads them to a mysterious place in the middle of nowhere where deformed "humans" exist and something terrible lies in a laboratory, something... hidden.
Richard Sala continues to produce excellent horror comic books with his distinctive artistic style that both terrifies and is a joy to look at. His lettering alone is worth reading the book for. Here he riffs on Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" of a creator, also called Victor, who creates something or someone who goes on to change things... except with this creature, he goes further than Frankenstein's Monster ever could.
Sala fans will lap this up but comics fans of the indie and horror sort will find plenty to enjoy here too. I thought this was one of Sala's strongest books and really enjoyed it. Also should note that the hardback is really excellently produced by Fantagraphics. It's not just a great comic book but looks really great on the shelf too. Top notch stuff.
A briskly paced tale of cataclysm, the post-apocalyptic aftermath and a band of survivors that stumbles upon the truth of what triggered the calamity. All in all, this is a tale with a fairly epic scope that is further accentuated by Sala's simple and expressive illustration.
I'm a long time fan of Richard Sala so I bought this as soon as it was released. The book features several different apocalypses and the attempts at survival of a small group of characters. The plot is disjointed and some of the storylines seem to contradict each other. However, this is not a weakness: The weird dream-logic gives the book a compelling sense of disaster and nightmare. The characters in some of Sala's other books don't evoke the empathy they do in this one; I was really hoping things might turn out for some of these people. Of course the art is great with tons of memorable images. Buy it and read it twice like I did.
Post-apocalyptic stranded-group meets Frankenstein in Richard Sala's latest modern pulp-gothic graphic novel. As usual, his weird, creepy art sets the tone perfectly, giving everything an unsettling, uncomfortable feel while remaining strangely familiar. There's a sense of creeping dread, as the story quietly builds to its climax. It's also fairly gory, despite the non-photorealistic artwork, so definitely not one for the kids!