"Pixu: The Mark of Evil" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and illustrated by Gabriel Ba, Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, and Fabio Moon
2009, 128 Pages
Trade paperback published on September 9th, 2015
I've been fortunate in my life that I haven't had any horror stories when it comes to the places I've lived. Sure, I've had some crappy neighbors or an annoying walk-up, but that's nothing compared to what the folks in Pixu: The Mark of Evil go through on a daily basis. You'd think with literal evil sprouting from the walls that it would be a good idea to move. This darkness seeps into the very foundation of the building, slowly infecting the residents and leading each of them down a terrifying path.
At least, that's what I think is happening. See, Pixu isn't all that clear about a lot of things. Most of the people living in this house wake up, find a weird mark on the wall, and then lose their friggin' minds. Some of them appear to have been a bit evil ahead of time, such as the pederast or the creepy old guy killing chickens, but others are just strange. One guy performs the same routine every morning that ends with him sitting by the phone for some reason. The time spent with each resident is brief, so we're not given much to go on in terms of who they are and what is troubling with them. Much is left to the imagination and your mind will most likely jump to the worst possible scenario.
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What is very clear with Pixu is the unmistakable feeling of dread that permeates through every single panel. It is apparent from the first page that something is not right here and it's only a matter of time before these lives are torn apart. It's like watching a train wreck. You don't want to watch, but you can't turn away.
A big part of this has to do with the artwork. I'm unclear as to who handled what on the book, however the creative roster is pretty impressive with Gabriel Ba, Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, and Fabio Moon. The aforementioned dark mark creeps up around the building. It appears like a bizarre shadow, slowly contaminating anything it touches. It's almost like graphitti, standing out in stark contrast to an otherwise normal looking house. At one point it takes the form of a skull covering the entire side of the house as a resident within screams in terror. What is especially scary is when the mark subtly appears in a small area, like the corner of a painter's canvas. It's just working its way into this area and you know that it's only going to get worse from here.
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The artists used shadow very effectively throughout Pixu. It helps set the mood in every scene. Some start out like your run-of-the-mill room before the mark gets in and changes the entire landscape. The book seems to get darker as it progresses, which fits the tone of the story. These people are in a spiral that they cannot see or control.
Pixu: The Mark of Evil is a strange comic. It's filled with foreboding and presented with some beautiful, yet terrifying imagery. The story leaves something to be desired, as if it's only a piece of a larger tale. We don't get any real understanding of what this evil is, where it came from, or why it's doing what it's doing. It just is which can be scary on its own, but not enough to carry the graphic novel.