Created by Aaron Alexovich and Drew Rausch
Written by Aaron Alexovich
Art by Drew Rausch
Heart Shaped Skull
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Digital Price: $0.99
A writing shortcut to grab my attention is to pack a story full of 80′s pop culture references, quirky dialogue, tentacles, and insane violence. Add a pinch of well-placed cursing and Eldritch! delivers in all these aspects and sneaks in a surprisingly intricate horror-comedy storyline to boot. This winner of the final Zuda webcomic competition completely hooked me.
This digital comic is the fifth issue in a 6-part series. Anya and Owen Sobczek are siblings locked in an oh-so-common rivalry. Anya is a college student who is a staunch follower of science and reason. The series begins with her showing off a rad Darwin tattoo that encompasses her left arm. Owen, her little brother, is all into mysticism and magic. Owen and his buddy, Chaston Willoughby, created a small cult by inventing their own pantheon of gods and erecting a makeshift church out of a pool house. Anya and Owen couldn’t be more opposite. Their underlying conflict between science and religion drives the series.
Owen reveals that hidden tentacles infect his body and can instantly regenerate any wound — think of an inverted Venom. Anya is determined to uncover the source of these tentacles. Her investigation leads her to their bizarre neighbors, the Newbarns, and their baby, Skyler. In issue #4, Anya discovers that Owen and his cult are throwing a conversion party where, presumably, he will infect his followers with these strange tentacles. She hastily decides to crash this party.
Eldritch #5: Screams in the Pool-House picks back up right at the conversion party. Owen has lost his ability to reign in the all-evil Chaston, who thirsts for the blood of unbelievers. The issue focuses almost entirely on the conversion party and its many revelations. Without spoiling anything, what started as a kids’ game turns real and the issue ends with a sick cliffhanger that makes you yearn for next one.
Eldritch‘s strongest aspect is its quirky dialogue. Writer Aaron Alexovich gives each character a distinct voice, which allows the sometimes wordy comic to move along at a reasonable pace. The mysterious story is slowly revealed through captivating, natural-flowing dialogue that keeps you hooked. I especially loved Ted Newbarn’s nervous, stream of consciousness, 80′s nostalgia information dumps. My only complaint is the sometimes confusing word-bubble placement. If the characters weren’t so easily identifiable by their words, this would’ve been a much larger issue.
Drew Rausch‘s cartoony art is uniquely sinister, like an evil Humberto Ramos drawing Ren and Stimpy. Honestly, I was not a fan at first. But once I better understood the theme and atmosphere of the story, I got the art. More than once I had to pause and just take in the over-expressive insanity of Drew Rausch’s crazed scratchings.
Are the tentacles some sort of magical curse? A military experiment gone bad? Aliens? Nanobots? The final issue will hopefully reveal the tentacles’ origin as well as resolve the pickle that Anya finds herself in. Any fan of eccentric horror comics or manga will find lots to love in this indie series. Eldritch #5 moves the series into a prime position for a grand conclusion. I can’t wait!