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"Hotell #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by AWA Studios


Written by John Lees
Illustrated by Dalibor Talajic
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
2020, 32 Pages
Comic released on March 18th, 2020


We’ve all driven past a creepy motel on the interstate. It would take some pretty dire circumstances to get us to even think about staying there. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the situation Alice finds herself in. She’s fleeing from an abusive boyfriend who would most definitely kill her and her unborn baby if she didn’t get out. This was supposed to be just a pit stop on her journey, a place to rest and catch her breath. Something about this hotel is keeping her here and she’s having very strange dreams where she communicates with her baby. Did Alice jump from the frying pan into the fire?

I’m going to put this up front: Hotell is a creepy friggin’ comic. Writer John Lees fills these pages with so many unsettling elements that you never know where the real danger is coming from. Since everything is disturbing in some shape or fashion, you’re constantly on edge while reading. It makes for a pitch perfect horror experience.

Click images to enlarge

At first, I found it hard to pinpoint which aspect was scarier, but we’ll definitely all agree on that by the end of the issue. Hotell #1 builds to a terrifying and rather revolting climax that will leave your jaw on the floor. No joke, I let out a big “WTF?!” by the end of this issue. The path to get there winds through leering neighbors, a strange manager, and Alice’s frightening ex.

Artist Dalibor Talajic maintains just the right amount of normalcy in Hotell which makes all the odd things stand out all the more. You immediately understand how burdened and battered Alice is by how she carries herself. It’s more than just being tired from pregnancy. Her horrible experiences to date have weighed her down. This makes her sympathetic as well as vulnerable, which makes for a perfect combination for the terror in store.

Click images to enlarge

I’m purposely dancing around the big reveal for obvious reasons. This is best experienced cold because it is completely unexpected. Right when you think you know where this might go, Lees rips the rug right out from under you in the best way. Colorist Lee Loughridge aids this with some dynamite color work. We go from the hot sun in this desolate landscape one moment to a trippy fever dream full of color and life the next.

When the terror really ramps up, letterer Sal Cipriano puts it over the edge with some of the most disturbing font choices and word balloons. They really drive home the unnatural quality of this thing, packing one helluva punch.

Hotell is a true standout of a horror comic from beginning to end. If this is what new publisher AWA Studios has in store for us, we are in for quite a treat. Hotell sets the bar high right out of the gate with unparalleled scares, brilliant artwork, and great character work. Do not miss it.


Story: fivestars Cover
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Art: fivestars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

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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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