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"The Bad Bad Place" Graphic Novel Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Soaring Penguin Press


Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Mark Stafford
2019, 124 Pages


Faraway Hills was a nice town, growing steadily with an influx of new residents. That changed when the Cassevette Estate suddenly reappeared at the edge of town. This lush mansion vanished after mysterious circumstances that led to the previous town's demise. What could this mean for Faraway Hills and the folks that call it home? The short answer is: Nothing good.

The Bad Bad Place plays with the idea of small town horror. This is away from the prying eyes of city life. It's out in the boonies where hundreds of people could disappear and no one would know the truth as to what happened to them. Ned Trench knows though. He's the sole survivor and he's been trying to warn others about the dangers this place and the Cassevette Estate hold, but to no avail.

It takes some doing, but Ned does open up to Jenny, a young woman searching for her boyfriend. He shares his story, complete with ties to the Estate and what happened to the others. Under other circumstances, this could have flowed like a history lesson, but writer David Hine keeps things very interesting, grabbing you with a solid and chilling pace while pulling you deeper and deeper into the murky depths of this unsettling mystery.

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A chunk of The Bad Bad Place is told in vignettes, outlining what happened to some specific townsfolk and how they met their demise at the Cassevette Estate. Each is more disturbing than the last. In hindsight, it's clear Ned is working up to the big reveal, testing the waters to see if Jenny would buy all of the crazy things that happened before he can tell her the truth behind it all.

By this point, I was in, hook, line, and sinker. I had to know what was causing all this chaos and deeply unnerving horror. Boy, does it deliver. It's equal parts terrifying and heartbreaking. The sick part about the finale is how the actions of the villain are almost justifiable. Granted, they're way overboard, but it left me feeling rather uneasy.

A big part of this comes from Mark Stafford's artwork. Every single panel is creepy and weird. No one looks normal. There's usually an odd trait to them, like eyes that are too wide or a strange shaped head. That's just the regular people too. Just wait until you see what's lurking inside the Cassevette Estate. That's where Stafford really excels, delivering some of the grossest creatures this side of the Black Lagoon.

Click image to enlarge

Stafford brings out the soul of each character in their facial expressions. Ned looks sad and pathetic, while Jenny is jaded and angry. There's a boy in the Estate that looks hideous, but has a kind heart. You can see that innocence on his face, even through the sharp teeth and pointed ears.

There's a dark cloud hanging over Faraway Hills, like the curse that's plaguing the town has cast shadows over the entire place. Everything feels dingy and gross, which certainly aids in the disturbing quality of the story.

Even the lettering gets in on this action. I'm not sure who handled this, as it's not credited in the book, but the lettering in The Bad Bad Place is an art form in and of itself. The font is utterly unique and rather odd at times. It works to put you off guard, just like the artwork and the story, coming together to create an overall creepy tone.

The Bad Bad Place freaked me out from beginning to end. It will have you second guessing that scenic drive through the country out of fear of coming across a town like Faraway Hills. You wouldn't want to get stuck in a place like this, as everyone that steps foot here is doomed.


Story: fourandahalfstars Cover
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Art: fourandahalfstars
Overall: 4.5 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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