In the new Image Comics series, I hate this place, co-authors Kyle Starks and Artyom Tobelin bring horror to the middle over a surreal, funny, and horrific case for the first time. Joining the creative team Lee Loughridge on Colors and Pat Brosseau introduces lettering. He is famous for high-level action comedy films such as Six Sidekicks from Trigger Keatonkiller nationand the Kickstarter financier old headWriter Kyle Starks is branching out with this series to make a more straightforward horror movie. However, he can’t avoid inundating the characters and story with sharp dialogue and funny moments. Turned out to be wacky and nerve-wracking, Tobelin’s art brings this strange world to a fully realized life. I hate this place #1 succeeds in setting up mysteries and horror while making readers care about the inner lives of its characters, and readers couldn’t ask for much more than that.
at I hate this place #1, Gabe has just inherited Rutherford Ranch, a cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere, from her recently deceased older aunt. She and her partner Trudy are just moving in. Gabe thinks this is the first step toward financial freedom, but Trudy, ready for doomsday, isn’t too optimistic. Ignoring warnings that the farm is a magnet for UFOs, the pair soon discover that aliens might be the least of their worries. There is no escape from Rutherford Farm or its many secrets.
Tobelin’s art strikes a good balance between caricature and realism to make the moments of horror and puppetry seem menacing and playful but not overly exaggerated. Its use of heavy black and swirling perspective lines to denote the moments when the world is immersed in surrealism provides an evocative element unique to the visual language of the comics. It is as if the world is drawn to itself, and readers are drawn directly to its horrors. Tobelin gives the remote farmhouse, which must be sprawling and liberating, a feeling of crampedness and crowding. The backgrounds are narrow, and the first full-page image of the farm is crowded around the characters in elegant symmetrical lines. Door and window frames are a recurring visual motif, reminding readers that the cast is always on the cusp of something troubling.
This is not, despite Gabe’s insistence, a fresh start. It is a prison. Loughridge’s pastel colors make a clear impression of the whole affair. Brousseau’s lettering works with art to move in and out of scenes, and in particular, sound effects work in tandem with Topilin’s font not just to evoke the sound but to cadence his characters. Without a soundtrack to entice the reader or intensify the tension of characters wandering in the dark, the sound effects provide that stifling sense of awe.
Kyle Starks’ structure is impeccable, opening the story with a brief, violent premise before abruptly transitioning into what must be a perfect road trip between a young couple. Without knowing how these disparate plots relate, there is a direct correlation indicating that something is going to go wrong for these good people. Excerpts from Gabe’s childhood intrude into current scenes and hint that she knows more about the farm than she’ll let her know. Not surprisingly, Stark’s dialogue is sharp and funny. He has taken his senses of comic storytelling and applied them to this horror story to construct dark moments and compare the humor with the horror that awaits the characters. With a mixture of UFOs, evil spirits, ghosts, and horned monsters, there is a sense that anything can happen.
Most importantly, the characters, their personalities, and their dynamics are perfectly presented and clear. Gabe is desperate to start a new chapter with a naive optimism that things will inevitably work out for the better, while Trudy is doomsday armed and ready for the worst. Their dynamic is a playful opposition, but gradually looming puzzles bother them that there is more they haven’t shared with each other that could tear them apart. I hate this place It is an exceptional start that firmly establishes its world and characters, making it an instantly compelling and captivating story. There may be no escape from Rutherford Ranch, but with so much to enjoy, readers won’t want it.