Horrors in town and country

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“Gideon Falls has won an Eisner Award. The comic series, which is also available in German, does not convince our author yet.

On Saturday night, the Eisner Awards, which are considered the most important comic awards in North America, were again presented at Comic-Con International in San Diego. A (not quite complete) provisional list of winners can be found here.

Among the award-winners were several series and individual publications, which are also available in German and have already been reviewed in the Tagesspiegel. These included “Mister Miracle” by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, “Descender” (award for Dustin Nguyen as best artist) and the English edition of Pénélope Bagieus “Unerschrocken”.

Jeff Lemires and Andrea Sorrentino’s “Gideon Falls” were honoured as the best new series. Tagesspiegel author Jeff Thoss took a closer look at the series, whose first anthology was also recently published in German.

Sometimes the originality of a story lies in the way it links the ordinary. In Jeff Lemires and Andrea Sorrentino’s “Gideon Falls” (Splitter, Volume 1: Die Schwarze Scheune, Splitter, 160 p., 24€), two characters and narrative strands meet, each of which has been encountered dozens of times.

Wilfred is a Catholic priest who is sent to an inconspicuous nest after repeated missteps. The very first night he is awakened by his dead predecessor and witnesses a bizarre murder. It is the first of a series in the small town that seems to be cursed.

Meanwhile, in the big city, Norton, a young loner, roams around with a breathing mask and rummages through rubbish bins and garbage bags. He tells his psychiatrist Dr. Xu about miraculous finds, splinters of wood and rusty nails that belong to a black barn he regularly dreams of.

Spook, conspiracy theory or collective delusion?

Here lies the connection between the two stories, because the barn not only follows Norton, but also Wilfred’s new parish. In addition to the murders, a whole series of other accidents that took place in Gideon Falls are also said to have been caused by the barn. But only a few have seen the Black Barn with their own eyes.

Spook, conspiracy theory or collective delusion? The inhabitants of the small town as well as Norton and Dr. Xu argue about it. Of course, the mystery at the centre of the series is also meant to keep readers*in the loop. In these first six issues it is seldom exciting, but traces are made and moods created.

The comic convinces where it takes advantage of its contrast of city and country. Wilfred is surrounded by endless fields and yet part of a close-meshed social network. Norton moves through a claustrophobic metropolitan thicket and is alone with his thoughts.

The building blocks for an appealing series are in place

Lemire and Sorrentino usually design the pages with a few vertically arranged panels. When the Black Barn appears, however, they surprise you with unusual, self-reflexive layouts that would not be out of place with Grant Morrison. The colourist Dave Stewart in particular deserves praise for his autumnal colour palette and bright red sprinkles that define the atmosphere of “Gideon Falls”.

The building blocks for an appealing series are all there, but this first volume is not necessarily worth reading yet. The tempo is too slow and many scenes and side characters – especially in the small town – too clichéd.

You have to trust that the award-winning creators of “Gideon Falls” will give the comic more speed and thrilling moments in the future.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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