While many (wrongly) presume that comic books are nothing more than superheroes in flashy costumes, the medium continues to defy this expectation with not only deep, slice of life-like storylines but also artwork which traverses the colour spectrum from the brightest tone to the darkest shade. We take a look at Shaun Gardiner’s attempt to bring something altogether different to readers with the Boy with Nails for Eyes.
Publisher: Shaun Gardiner Comics
Writer: Shaun Gardiner
Artist: Shaun Gardiner
Price: Crowdfunding at unbound.com/books/nails-for-eyes
Set in a small, industrial coastal town on the fringes of a dystopian war, the Boy with Nails for Eyes follows the story of Bobby, the eponymous boy, who attempts to uncover meaning to his life and existence after a girl kisses him when at school. From there on Bobby strives to understand if that memory was really a dream as well as asking himself some other rather existential questions.
Upon reading this title, the Boy with Nails for Eyes comes across as somewhat perplexing or even contradictory in trying to explain what it is. Unfortunately, based on the review material, Shaun Gardiner has seemingly kept the direction of the story close to his chest as there is little in the way of explanation as to what the plot is and where, fundamentally, Bobby’s story is going. That said, what the story lacks in exposition of its narrative, it more than makes up for in both its atmosphere and language as Gardiner produces (particularly in the prologue) a hauntingly gothic tone for this tale which reads very much like a classic poem in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe. This continues into the story proper as the scripting appears to reference every minute detail to the extent of it being more a prose novel which, rather than bogs down the story, enhances it immensely against the artwork.
And where the adage is of ‘clothes maketh the man’, it is very much the case here that Gardiner’s art style here makes this comic what it is. Shaun Gardiner has created the Boy with Nails for Eyes with an eerily beautiful style which, while similar to Dave McKean’s work in Sandman, is still different enough for this reviewer to say it is unlike anything he’s ever seen. As a result, it’s form is fitting for this concept given that the story regularly references dreams because, as your eyes move from panel to panel, the Boy with Nails for Eyes (which the title is also more to do with the art than any deliberate rationale) looks like you are reading a literal dream on paper. Much of this comic feels experimental in it’s visuals, particularly a few panels surrounding the Murder of Crows whereby it all looks very collage-esque with newspaper clippings, imbuing a style Jack Kirby was once known for attempting in his career.
Despite its general plot being something of a mystery, Shaun Gardiner has created a breathtakingly gorgeous and amazingly intriguing comic series in the Boy with Nails for Eyes. With just the dialogue and art making this a comic you will definitely want more of, if an idea of where the story is going can be teased, the reviewer can only imagine how much more incredible this tale could be.