If like me, you love the darkness of classic horror movies – often the cheesier the better – then you might be interested in trying the first 3 chapters of Becoming by Brooke Burgess, published by Arcana Studio. As a fan of horror books, I don’t mind if they’re a little bit silly, in a foreign language, long or short. I can happily read pulpy, sexy shorts from the likes of Guy N. Smith and James Herbert or I can immerse myself in the longer, more thought-provoking tales of HP Loveraft and Brian Lumley. And I love a good horror comic. Whether it’s modern stuff like Dark Horse (my current favourite), Chaos! Comics‘s Evil Ernie and Lady Death, Glen Danzig’s Verotik series or legendary EC Comics from the 50s, I love horror, but something just doesn’t quite work with Becoming.On the surface it looks fabulous with arty, shadow filled covers and colours that burst from your iPad. The inner artwork is a dark and rough-and-ready but there are really clever touches from artist Dane Cypel. He brings a certain movie-like quality to his panels, by mixing scale and perspective with shadow and exciting bursts of colour. But – and it is a big but – the artwork is let down by the story and screenplay.
The premise of the story is that a college student is convinced that he is learning nothing from his course and as such is suffering bad grades. He confronts his tutor and asks why he’s being punished. The response is swift, with the tutor teaching the student a lesson through torture. In fact the longer you read these books, you come to realize the author is more interested in writing a bit of torture porn than an interesting story. There is even a page where the tutor is naked in a chair looking at the ‘hero’ on his laptop.
The prose is very long winded with huge amounts of speech bubbles littering every page (far too many) and the dialogue is often broken – almost as if it’s a movie that’s been dubbed into English. Pretty soon each page just merges one long-winded conversation into another – only helped along by quotes from rather obvious authors such as Nietzsche and Dane Cypels bigger splash page artwork.
Burgess’ writing has some good elements but the series could have been so much more. If only a good editor (like Dark Horse‘s Scott Allie) had been brought in to reign in the excess and cut the chaff, that way the book wouldn’t appear as bloated and pretentious as it does. In it’s current format it’s like a Clive Barker outline, over-written by Stephen King and directed by Ruggero Deodato. If this sounds like heaven to you then give Becoming a go – otherwise you’d better steer clear.