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"Obscura" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Neon Eagle

article-cover

Written by Luke Cartwright
Illustrated by Lukasz Wnuczek
2019, 198 Pages
Graphic novel released on March 15th, 2020

Review:

You'd think the worst thing to happen to William Morier was being the mortician's kid. When his father is arrested for selling corpses, William wallows in his abandoned home before going into business as a spirit photographer aided by Catherine White, a woman who once claimed to conjure ghosts. Now the two of them are out to swindle rich people in an increasingly elaborate scheme to take pictures of dead bodies and sell them as spirits.

William's story is complicated. Every time you think you know where Obscura is going, writer Luke Cartwright takes a wild turn that changes everything. Under some circumstances, that can be a good thing. Here, it disrupts the flow and left me confused more often than not.

Much of this comes down to just how far William and Catherine are willing to go to make this plan work. You'd think after they run into all these obstacles, each more insane than the last, they'd find a better way to make a buck. Instead, they double down on this idea, refusing to let it go. They goad each other on to make this work in a creepy and unhealthy way.

This situation gets so outlandish that it's almost laughable at times. I found myself saying, “Oh, you have to be kidding me.” whenever a new wrinkle showed up. William is a talented photographer and a total softie, but he is far from a great businessman. At one point he digs a tunnel from one grave to another, pulls a freshly buried corpse through it, and then finds out he didn't have to do that at all. It's kind of a shame that all these photographs go to waste, as William would absolutely kill it in the present day as an Instagram influencer.

Obscura meanders a bit, mostly due to how complicated the premise is. It takes quite some time for the story to really get going. The really exciting twists don't come until the book is nearly over and by that point you've gone through over a hundred pages.

Lukasz Wnuczek's artwork establishes the gothic tone of Obscura from the get-go. The imagery is rather haunting in blacks, whites, and greys. This coloring mirrors the dark cloud that seems to hang over William's life. Although his actions get grimmer as the story goes on, there's an innocence to William. He lost his family and the love that went with it at an early age and he's desperately trying to find that again, even if it means arranging corpses to do it.

Obscura is a slow, convoluted path of death, despair, and poor business sense. It explores trust and naiveté on the outskirts of what has been deemed normal. The story could easily be reframed as a comedy with how elaborate the scheme gets and the lengths the characters go to see it through to the end.

Grades:

Story: twostars Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Art: threestars
Overall: 2.5 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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