Writer: Scott Allie
Artists: Paul Lee, Brian Horton, Dave Stewart(c)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Scott Allie takes a stab at writing and makes a deep cut with Devil's Footprints. The title misleads. A Fortean aficionado will likely assume the story focuses upon the mysterious hoof prints found in Devonshire sometime during the seventeen-hundreds, but the title is more metaphorical. Brandon and all of his loved ones have been cursed. Why he has been cursed seems to revolve around the occult actions of his father.
A quiet supernatural exercise in the tradition of Henry James, Devil's Footprints through an attention to contrast raises itself higher than more pedestrian essays. While the series is bona fide horror or if you prefer dark fantasy, it still possesses a sense of humor. Our hero for instance meets a kooky wizard with a pesky familiar. The encounter elicits a titter or two while emphasizing the unseen world that borders our own.
Besides the obvious contrast--humor vs. fear--Mr. Allie's story draws strength from its humanity. The hero of our tale is a good person and somebody for whom you wish to root. Brandon never asked for his problems nor can he be blamed for their creation. The technique draws immediate sympathy from the reader. The evocation is earnest, honest and subtle. Mr. Allie skillfully presents the scarred facets of Brandon's life and simply asks the reader to respond.
Writers often in their quest for reaction often forget to produce the elements that would make such a presentation feel natural: the feeling that the events no matter how far-fetched actually can happen. The lack of such vital details make these also-rans in the genre by comparison seem like hollow spook shows, but Scott Allie applies a lifetime of learning from his time as an editor to his writing. In for instance the staging of Brandon's and Sarah's meeting, Allie and the art team sharply deviate from the brooding and the eerie. The interaction between the characters reminds the reader of being in love. The soft pastel colors of the setting give the reader comfort to absorb the scene's meaning. You do not expect to find a scene such as this in a horror story, yet without it, the book will feel empty.
Devil's Footprints is not perfect. The dialogue sometimes stumbles. On occasion the lack of context confuses. The discussions sometime just seem to happen rather than start. The dialogue however as it continues flows. This is a minor difficulty in an otherwise promising achievement.
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