Pullbox Reviews: It Eats What Feeds It – Lovecraftian horror in the bayou

In this grimy horror romp, Francois, a stunning middle-aged woman, has developed a worsening affliction and seeks a young caretaker to upkeep her lavish creole mansion deep in the mystic bayou of Louisiana.  Enter Kenny, a teenage halfwit looking for a summer job. Free rent, meals, high pay, and a provocative boss… what’s there for Kenny to refuse? Well, there’s the blood-covered kitchen…

“Seeking a young and agile handyman to care for my property. Please visit in person. 666999 McPike Ln, Besstoon, Louisiana.”

Sounds legit, right?

Kenny thought so too. So, looking for work he arrived at the appointed place, a creepy and obviously haunted mansion out in the bayou. Greeted by a lovely woman of obvious means, lady of the house Francois, he lets his guard down long enough to take the job as caretaker. His job will be to see to the upkeep of house and property, and to attend to her… needs.

What could possibly go wrong?

Okay, if you’ve found yourself the protagonist in a horror comic rife with Lovecraftian undertones, the answer to that would be “quite a lot.”

More and more, I’m having to rethink my notions about horror in comics. It has been my experience that it was a really hard thing to pull off. When you watch a horror movie, there are a lot of elements that add to the story’s tone, working to build the suspense needed to shock and scare an audience. Music, sound effects, & pace are all pretty major influences on what makes a scary film scary. Trying to condense those feelings into a comicbook is tricky. There’s no musical score or sound track, and the pace is left in the hands of the reader. So how does one pull it off?

First, Max Hoven & Aaron Crow create a bit of a rope a dope. Setting Kenny up in the first pages as being fully aware of his situation is a great start, pointing out the creepy old house and jokingly talking about his impending kidnapping and death. Once Kenny meets the charming & seductive Francois, he practically runs full tilt into the grinder as hormones override all common sense. Next, Hoven and Crow defuse the tension by giving the lovely Francois a bit of wry humor, playing to Kenny’s obvious hormonal overload as well as introducing a bit of vulnerability as she talks about being weakened by a mysterious ailment. Playing with the reader’s expectations and promptly yanking them in unexpected directions, Hoven and Crow keep moving the target and make it tough to zero in on what’s really going on.

Getting full credit for the assist with setting the stage, Gabriel Iumazark does some heavy lifting by establishing a visual theme. The art is beautiful, with some manga influences, and could have easily worked in any genre. That the exuberant Kenny and the alluring Francois exist in the pages of a horror story is just another part of the puzzle. Francois’ home is full of thick, heavy shadows, the surrounding bayou shrouded in mist. While the reader is wondering about where the threat is coming from Iumazark follows suit with the writing by keeping the setting as mundane as possible… until he gives a glimpse of horror. Just a single panel, like a peek through a partially open door, to give some inkling of what’s coming. And then it’s gone. We’re moved along to the next panel as Francois’ increasing flirtation keeps Kenny off guard, luring him in more and more deeply, until…

Nope, that’d be telling. I’m just going to say that It Eats What Feeds It is a near-perfectly crafted story of building, skulking, gnawing horror. We know it from the start… just look at that title! It reeks of inevitable doom and dark fate. Without any reservation, I’d say that this book would fit right in with the tales of- and inspired by- H.P. Lovecraft. Just like in his original works, we’re held to just those flashes of terror, glimpses of what’s lurking in the halls at 666999 McPike Lane, all the way to the end.

Final Score: 10+

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