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"Hag #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by American Gothic Press

article-cover

Written by Chad Stroup
Illustrated by Jon Clark
Lettered by April Brown
2020, 24 Pages, $0.99
Comic released on January 15th, 2020

Review:

After we saw the devastation caused by the floods in Houston, Texas, not that long ago, it's no wonder a comic like Hag pops up with untold horrors. When the water rises at Crystal Beach, an old man sets out on a small boat to help his neighbors. The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” certainly applies here, as he encounters something terrifying out on the water.

Hag #1 flows well, as the main character is narrating the whole thing. It's like sitting at a barbeque where an old man is spinning a yarn. Writer Chad Stroup catches our interest with the opening pages before going back to see how we got to these terrors. It takes some time to get going again. Since we know what's waiting for us, it can be a little frustrating to not jump right into it, but we need the groundwork to better identify with this guy and understand the situation he's in.

This lends itself to a feeling of isolation. Since this is a horror story taking place in the modern day, Stroup had to quickly point out that this old man can't just pick the phone and call for help. The only way he's going to survive this natural disaster is by using his wits and working with his neighbors...that's assuming he can find them in the first place.

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This tone is conveyed in Jon Clark's haunting artwork. Even before the rain starts, there's a foreboding mood about Hag. Granted, we have an idea of what's waiting for this man in a short while, so that certainly plays a part, but it's much more than that. This comes through in the dark colors used; primarily blacks and greys that make the sky look like an endless see of darkness matched only by the abyss-like nature of the water beneath the man's feet.

Hag starts out with a scare and then steadily builds itself back up again. This leads to some very unsettling scenes when the protagonist starts to find some...things on the water. The monster towards the end of the issue is one part Creature from the Black Lagoon and one part witch. It's a chilling creation made even more so by how it's shrouded in darkness. We can't get a clear look at it, so our minds start to race as to what it could be.

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Most of Hag's story comes through in the main character's narration. Letterer April Brown keeps this moving at a steady pace with some nice placement of the caption boxes. What really stands out are the sound effects. The guttural howl of the monster stretches across the page in a way that's sure to send a shiver down your spine.

I already knew that I should stay out of the woods. Hag shows me that I should stay out of the water too. You never know what might be lurking in the shadowy depths. Despite a man's best intentions, he could meet his end here. This isn't a ditzy college co-ed getting wasted on a campground. This is an earnest man looking to do the right thing and he could pay the ultimate price for it.

Hag #1 can be purchased digitally through ComiXology.

Grades:

Story: fourstars Cover
Art: threeandahalfstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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