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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 288: The Suicide Forest #1

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be showing pages that are either scary or are part of “scary” issues (as scary as a comic can be, of course), because it’s October! Today’s page is from The Suicide Forest #1, which was published by IDW and is cover dated December 2010. Enjoy!

They're saying 'We ... want ... pie!'

After The Veil, El Torres and Gabriel Hernandez decided to tackle Aokigahara, the famous “suicide forest” not too far from Tokyo. And why not – it’s one of the creepiest places on Earth!

This is the first issue, of course, so it’s not terribly scary, but Torres is just setting the scene, man! Taro, the dude, helpfully reads the Japanese on that sign, and apparently he’s the only one in Japan who’s never heard of the suicide forest, because he seems awfully skeptical. I know that’s for the dumb ‘Murican audience who knows nothing of Japanese pop culture, but come on. Torres wants to get into the story quickly, so he needs to get this boilerplate out of the way (it continues on the second page, but then we dive into the story), but it’s a bit awkward. Ryoko, the chick, helpfully tells us the statistics about the number of suicides, although her contention that people left people in the forest to die is probably an invention of Torres – everything you can find about Aokigahara says it only became a suicide spot after 1960. Still, it’s not a bad invention (if it is one and I haven’t read enough about the forest) – Torres is pulling a hoary horror trope out of his pocket: the ancient evil that never dies! This also helps heighten the tension on the page, as Ryoko finishes by claiming you can hear the ghosts wailing. Isn’t that just wonderful?

Hernandez, meanwhile, doesn’t have too much to do on this page. The first panel, of course, moves us from left – where Taro’s word balloon is – to the right, and in the second panel, we pull back to see the forest for the first time. Notice that the word balloons lead us down to where Ryoko is crouching and where the dog is. The dog – Shiro – is important, so Hernandez and the letterers (Malaka Studio), lead us straight to him. Taro still stands on the left of the panel, so when Ryoko starts talking, our eye naturally drifts from him to her, until Panel 4, where her word balloon is off-panel (mirroring his in Panel 1), leading us to Page 2. Hernandez, meanwhile, makes sure the colors are dull, because Aokigahara is apparently very gloomy in general, so it can’t be too bright on this page. It’s not a very exciting page, visually, but Hernandez does a good job moving us through it, so that Torres can tempt us with the idea of old ghosts wailing in the forest.

Both The Veil and The Suicide Forest are pretty keen comics. These two dudes need to get together and do another series! That would be groovy.

Next: We’re going to spend a few days with Mike Mignola’s most famous creation. Why not? You won’t find him in the archives, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking them out!

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