Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: Black Leaf, Colin Bell, Garry McLaughlin, John Lees
We’re fortunate at Comics Anonymous to be able to pick up a broad range of indie/self-published titles from local and UK talent…..and we’re even more fortunate to be able to add these to our regular pull-lists. The latest from John Lees (story), Garry Mac (art) & Colin Bell (lettering) is Black Leaf #1.
Now Black Leaf isn’t an action-packed rollercoaster ride……and to be honest, if you thought that you really should be broadening the titles you read anyway. This is a slow-burning, haunting tale about loss that links life in a form you’ll relate to with an undercurrent of the supernatural. Not scary in any way (at least I didn’t think so) as it opens with Stuart being tucked in and told a scary story by his much-loved Grandpa….although his mum soon puts a stop to that as bedtime comes closing in too soon.
We flash-forward 7 years and an older Stuart content in his city-life is on the road to the Scottish highlands with his parents……but it’s no mere escape from the hustle & bustle. It’s a walk down memory lane as they head to see his grandpa, a significant figure in Stuart’s early life that modern technology and settling in the city has ebbed away at. As the family arrive at the family home at the most crucial times in the old man’s downward spiral – Stuart’s aversion to seeing his grandpa’s weakened state sees him explore and befriend local girl Alison.
The inevitable moment in his grandpa’s sickness comes through the night and the mystery surrounding Alison and the local forest begins to unfold. All with a specific spot called the White Leaf Circle being a spot where even death can’t take hold……a spot that surely is going to play a part in the future issues of this release. You’ve GOT to be reading titles like this one and that’s why I try to keep away from giving away too many spoiler-like details.
John writes us a story that manages to have a real sense of heart to it…..and if anything I imagine there’s some real feelings pouring onto the pages with this one. The warmth between Stuart and his Grandpa, regardless of the passage of time and the distance between them is tangible. Smart pacing keeps the intrigue there and the mystery very much alive from the start……I kinda felt I made the journey with the family too.
While the story is a strong element to the issue…….there’s then a double-whammy with the artwork and intricate placement and attention given to the lettering too. Moody, atmospheric art keeps that spooky vibe going and manages to hold onto the sadness in the pages too. Garry lovingly shades the pages with style and helps capture the vibe that I’m sure John was aiming for. Colin then subtly adds the lettering in there with a ninja-like ease that helps round-off the complete look and feel of the issue. Haunting and beautiful in equal measure, Black Leaf #1 gives another indie title to be added to that pull-list – a pull-list that now sees more self-published releases going toe-to-toe with titles from the big publishers.
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