Jude Terror reviews the second issue of Larime Taylor's A Voice in the Dark, and Taylor offers you a free copy!
Last year, I posted a satirical article talking about the Kickstarter for Dark Zoey, a project by up-and-coming cartoonist Larime Taylor. This being The Outhouse, I used the article to poke fun at mainstream comics creators. Larime has a good sense of humor, and we became friends on Facebook (the same is, interestingly enough, true of Ethan Van Sciver, one of the artists I made fun of in the original article).
Anyway, I've watched the project evolve following the very successful Kickstarter (it made more than six times the funding goal). It's now called A Voice in the Dark, a catchier title for sure, and there are two issues completed, with a third underway. But, despite media coverage from top comics sites like Newsarama, Bleeding Cool, and The Outhouse, as well as the massively successful Kickstarter, Larime has yet to find a publisher willing to publish the book. We think those guys must be crazy, but Larime Taylor is undeterred. He's planning on publishing the book himself if a publisher doesn't pick it up, and to build an audience in the meantime, he's letting Outhouse readers download a PDF of issue 1 and 2 from his website (scroll to the bottom for links), a strategy that has become increasingly common in the music industry in the past decade, and which will hopefully translate well to comics here.
But that's not all I want to talk about today. I want to talk about how good this comic is, and why it deserves to get even more press than its gotten so far.
First of all, issue #2 is even better than issue #1 (review of #1 here). It seems like Taylor has gained confidence from the positive response to the first issue from both fans and industry legends like Neil Gaiman and Terry Moore, the latter of which called the comic a cross between Dexter and Strangers in Paradise. Taylor's art gets even better than before thanks to this confidence.
Little things matter here. Have you ever heard an actor talk about figuring out what to do with their body while acting out a scene? They should talk to Taylor, because every panel in this book features characters doing something that compliments their words and thoughts. Characters touch each other while conversing. They fiddle with objects when they're nervous. They gesture while talking. It makes the characters seem alive, which, of course, makes it more effective when Zoey imagines killing one of them.
Big things matter here as well. One of the things that stood out to me on reading this issue is the diversity of characters you see in this comic. From the first issue, the comic has done a great job of naturally including characters with diverse backgrounds, something that's sadly rare in comics today. But in issue #2, what stood out immediately to me was diversity of bodies as opposed to race or sexuality (though there is plenty of that as well). Characters range from slender to curvy to overweight. Not only is this a good thing from a perspective of allowing all readers to identify with the characters in the books(as a fat bearded man, i am always an advocate of fat bearded characters in comics, like Zoey's Ethics and Morality teacher, Ed Dean), but it also makes the world seem more full and realistic.
This isn't the spandex world of mainstream comics. It's the world you and I live in every day. Hell, do you see that quiet girl in the corner of the Starbucks you're reading this review in, drinking an iced mocha with breve? She could be dreaming about about stabbing you in the eye with a pencil right this minute. She probably is, actually. You're kind of annoying.
Which brings us to the story. Zoey is a college freshman at Blair's College in Cutter's Circle, California. She's just like any other 18 year old girl, except that she fantasizes constantly about killing people. She recently acted on those fantasies, murdering the girl who almost drove her recently adopted sister Seven to suicide after toying with Seven's emotions and outing her to her parents. Zoey just started a job as a talk show host on the local radio station, KILL FM, where she hosts a show for anonymous callers to talk about their darkest secrets.
That right there is more than enough for a story, and some writers might stretch that out for 12 issues, but not Larime Taylor. What really impressed me about the story in this issue is that Taylor immediately started building on these concepts, dropping new layers into the mix. There's the introduction of Zoey's uncle, a gay homicide detective, for one, which is sure to become a conflict of interest when Zoey's actions start coming back to haunt her. He's in town to investigate a brutal ritualistic serial killing that sees a naked cheerleader nailed to a tree.
Oh, and there's the cliffhanger this issue ends on, which puts a life in Zoey's hands in a way that doesn't involve stabbing, imaginary or otherwise. It's not a new situation for Zoey, who we already know can experience empathy despite her homicidal urges because of her love for her sister, but it will be interesting to see how she handles it when it's not someone close to her.
All of this comes together into the second issue of a comic that shows a lot of promise for the series as a whole. There's no shortage of story potential in all of these characters and side plots, and Taylor seems more than capable of building on it. All that's left is for the book to make it to print, and while we'd be perfectly happy to buy it out of the back of someone's 1992 Honda Civic hatchback like a junkie looking to score, it would certainly be nice if the comic were picked up by an established publisher.
Are you listening, Oni Press?
Until publishers come to their senses, we encourage you to read the first two issues at the links below, and then take to your blogs, your twitters, your facebook, your tumblrs, write a letter to your congressman, mail breakfast foods to Dan Didio's office, take twelve innocent bystanders hostage and execute them one by one until Dark Horse agrees to... well okay, maybe you shouldn't take things too far, but we think that once you read it for yourself, you're gonna want to do all you can to spread the word.
And if you don't... well, we've got an imaginary screwdriver in our hands, and we're not afraid to use it.
Check out A Voice in the Dark with these free PDF copies, courtesy of future comics superstar Larime Taylor: