"Casefile: Arkham - Nightmare on the Canvas" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by 01 Publishing
Written by Josh Finney
Illustrated by Patrick McEvoy
2016, 128 Pages
Graphic novel released on February 16th, 2016
Sometimes you hear a pitch that's a mix of genres so perfect, you just have to learn more. It's the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup effect. Two great tastes that taste great together. Take Casefile: Arkham for example, a graphic novel that blends a good old-fashioned detective story with Lovecraftian horror. If that doesn't peak your interest, I don't know what will.
Casefile: Arkham follows private eye Hank Flynn as he picks up a new missing persons case from a wealthy socialite. He's tasked with finding a painter, which seems like an easy task at first and quickly takes Flynn into a terrifying underground of monsters and mayhem. There's more to this man than your typical detective. Flynn saw some shit in the war and we're not talking about death and destruction, although he saw his fair share of that. Something supernatural infected this guy and he hasn't been the same since.
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The pacing of this book is great, as it focuses on the story in the present day (1940s) while providing these glimpses into Flynn's mysterious past that shed some light on his actions and eccentricities. Writer Josh Finney provides just enough information about the main character to make me hope to see plenty more of his adventures. If this was just one case, what else could he get himself into?
Casefile: Arkham works as a horror story, but it's also a solid mystery. The supernatural angle puts a unique spin on things, making it even more difficult to predict what's going to happen. It's easy to get pulled into the plot, especially once the monsters start popping up. They pull you deeper and deeper into the darkness.
Speaking of those monsters, there are plenty to choose from in this book. Artist Patrick McEvoy did a fantastic job with the design work. The opening pages feature a hulking beast seen primarily in shadow. Sharp barbs protrude from its arms, head, and back. It's tall and muscular with long, sinewy limbs ending in razor sharp claws. The look of terror on a young woman's face as she sees the creature seals the deal. She doesn't even scream. She just sits there, eyes wide as her mind struggles to comprehend the being before her, powerless to do anything about it. That's just the first few pages!
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There are monsters that are made of nothing but tentacles, teeth, and eyes. These are things that no mortal man should gaze upon. They're pretty impressive and completely unique. This is what Lovecraft was talking about all those years ago.
Flynn is your typical private eye in terms of look. I see a similarity to Robert Mitchum in many scenes, as Flynn just oozes cool with eyes half open. He's not the only one that appears to be influenced by a classic actor. Other characters bear a resemblance to Vincent Price and Edward G. Robinson. I'm sure there are more that I'm missing.
Casefile: Arkham blends the best of old school noir with mind-bending horror. I hope it serves as a pilot to further cases from Hank Flynn. There are other supernatural detectives out there, but this is one that speaks to the classics of the pulp genre. It would be like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe duking it out with witches and ghouls while also tracking down the Maltese Falcon.