The Upturned Stone (1993) by Scott Hampton
I’ve always liked the Hampton brothers’ artwork — happening upon something by them in some horror anthology or other was always a delight. (Usually from Pacific or Eclipse comics.) They mostly did fully painted artwork at a time when that wasn’t usual yet, and they always seemed to develop and try new things, so they kept things fresh and were not as staid as some other artists doing similar work.
But I have to admit that I’ve lost track of them, and I had no idea that this book existed, for instance. (And neither does Scott Hampton’s wikipedia page.)
Hampton’s artwork has gotten even more distinctive than what I remember from the 80s. It’s photo referenced, I guess? But he’s good at getting appropriate poses from people, and people don’t look awkward. But sometimes people look oddly similar — the boy in the second panel has the exact same expression as the man in the fifth panel, right? (Which may or may not be on purpose, because er are they father and son? I forget; it’s been several minutes since I read this.)
And… those speech balloons? I can’t recall anybody using exactly that technique — a little short line extending into the balloon to indicate who’s talking. I like it! None of those messy er tails? handles? hanging off of them.
(The letters themselves look slightly odd — I wondered whether they were early machine lettering, but they don’t seem to be. They look like they’ve been scanned in low resolution, though? Looks like 150dpi or something.)
As for the story… it’s quite spooky at first, before we know what’s going on. Properly creepy.
Wow, that’s cool… The book is very dark. I mean, lots of dark paints and blacks. But there’s still room for a lot of stuff like this.
See? Really good.
As the plot went along, things grew less scary, and it became more of a revenge fantasy. Which is a genre staple, too, and it worked well here.
Ah, it was serialised in Heavy Metal.
You can still pick up copies of this for not much more than cover price.
Dark, painted watercolour art is ideal for the story, although it’s still relatively early in Hampton’s career, so some stiff poses and over-exaggerated expressions are found. He’s also overly fond of giving people red noses, something of a career trademark, and in some places that draws too much attention. Otherwise the pages strike the right note. The boys aren’t just scaled down adults, Hampton makes good use of the woods, and the bit players are completely realised, except for one who has to remain vague. It’s a cinematic production, and a neat touch concerns Hampton substituting for musical effects and the pacing available to films with more impressionistic images, slowing the reading and raising the tension.
These people are a very big production company. They wanna make it as a studio film not as an independent film. It’s moving forward and it’s in pre-production already. Once they make the announcement, hopefully everything will be nice and set up, they’ll have a director and will be able to move forward after that. My hope is that not this coming Halloween, but the one after it, the movie might come out.
This is the one hundred and fifty-third post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.