"Laudanum" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Horrere Comic
Written by Robin Jones and Michael Sambrook
Illustrated by Alisdair Wood
2016, 16 Pages
Percy sits in a chair, numb to the world as friends and family pay their respects for his dearly departed wife, Victoria. There is a gruff stillness to him as he stares off into space. He just lost his wife, after all, so he's in the midst of mourning. Not all is what it seems though, as Laudanum begins to go back to show how Victoria really died and what part Percy may have played in her death.
Laudanum is a one-shot comic that works on multiple levels. On a top line basis, you're questioning reality as a whole. Is Percy crazy? Is what he's seeing real? Or is it all in his head? Is this a way his mind is coping with the death of his wife and the guilt from his involvement? Then you get deeper into the story and find that Victoria had a supernatural affliction...or at least that's what we're led to believe. As this is set in Victorian England, the tools were not as refined as we have today. Poor Percy did what he could and what he thought was right.
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This is a very quick read with the whole book clocking in at only sixteen pages, including the covers and credits. The creators waste no time ratcheting up the terror. It starts out introducing Percy and his situation and then jumps right off the rails into bone-chilling horror. First Percy hears someone faintly calling his name. You turn the page to find the beautiful portrait of Victoria has moved. A decaying corpse is literally pulling itself out of the frame. It reminds me of that scene in The Ring when Samara is crawling out of the TV. It's so damn creepy.
Artist Alisdair Wood is not done though. The hits just keep on coming. The art direction in Laudanum is fantastic, as Wood strikes a perfect balance between showing you just enough to let your mind fill in the gory details and pulling back giving you the full picture. Every single image packs a punch.
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Laudanum is like a Victorian version of The Exorcist, but at a far more personal level. It's a gripping story of a man consumed with guilt over the death of his wife and what he was forced to do in an effort to save her. It's a perfectly paced comic with scares from beginning to end.