Three ShadowsA comic review article by: Felicity Gustafson
Three Shadows is a unique blend of horror story and almost children's book. When your plot line is being faced with your son dying at the hands of three supernatural shadows, it's a horror story no matter how it's drawn. There are certain aspects that would suggest a younger age demographic like the artwork, morals and how there's a silver lining in everything, but still doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of humanity. Three Shadows practically screams, “live your life! You only have one, so the precious moments are to be cherished!” This book's the kind of story that'll make you introspective. You might go so far as to wonder how you would react in a situation that's out of your control like this.
The story revolves around a small family – just a wife, husband and their young son. As with most books, in the beginning, everything's perfect. Everyone's happy. Now enter - you guessed it - three shadowy figures that steadily add more stress until tempers fray and fear takes over. Despite the shadows not acting aggressively, the family turns itself upside down to save the boy, Joachim. This story stands on a strong base of family values. There is definitely a moral structure that you don't see too often nowadays. I will admit that I'm a little surprised it was the father who took drastic measures to save the child while the mother more or less accepted the situation. Generally when you screw with a mother's child, you're in for a ride. Either way, it was a charming tale that brings to heart a multitude of emotions.
It's a little fantastical in some areas, but for the most part, Three Shadows is pretty down to Earth. Like I mentioned before, there's no shying away from darker story tones. There's even mention of greedy men who use people's desperation to make a profit and slave trade. Which is a little surprising and makes me lean more toward it not being a children's book. The grittier values are toned down some though; the slaves aren't hurt and there's no gory details related to any killings. Don't let any of that dissuade you though, because the book is filled to the brim with charm. Maybe a little too much charm. Despite not being my normal type of reading, I really enjoyed the emotional upheavals contained within Three Shadows.
The artwork has a certain style that you don't see very often. The book's all in black and white, looks mostly like pencil and pen sketches really, and has a lot of swirling motions. Now that I'm thinking about it, it's hard to find a straight line in the pictures. The art's part of the book's charm though; it has a comforting sense that lends to the story, especially in the beginning. I especially liked the style of drawing used for the characters. How Joachim could be so expressive just from looking at his face. Pedrosa has an extreme talent for drawing body language perfectly. There's also a build up of subconscious anticipation depending on the shading of panels. Like for instance, when Joachim wakes up in the middle of the night and tip toes through the house to open the door for what he thought was his lost dog, Diego.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with the book. I'm happy I read it and it's the type of book that I'll probably read over and over. It's an emotional tale full of grief, elation, surprise and just about everything in between. It's unique artwork and storyline really makes Three Shadows a step apart from the run of the mill comics. If you're looking for something that's equal parts adventure, horror and drama, then you should really give Three Shadows a try.