Sir Jon Reviews: Forbidden Gallery #2
Publisher William Mull wisely sent me a preview copy of Forbidden Gallery issue two, a comic that straddles the lines of horror, suspense and dark drama while having the appearance of a title that time-travelled from 1970. As a fan of anthologies and all of the templates that Forbidden Gallery provides, the book is fully aimed at readers such as me.
There are five short tales within the confines of the nice Craig Hamilton cover, prefaced by an introductory story. Archimedes, the host of the comic that isn’t a comic host, initiates the overall plot of Forbidden Gallery, though new readers may not understand the structure as it isn’t fleshed out or clear. Evidently, pinup art in the book are paintings within Archimedes’ large home, with the stories after each pinup what is interpreted from them. That isn’t explained anywhere specific, but it is what William Mull explained when asked. It’s great, high-concept, and unusual, but it should be a little more clear, just in case new readers come in blind.
Of the five stories following, I was quite taken with “Reflections in a Black Pool” and “The Other Side”. These two are wonderful, 50’s-styled, weird fantasy stories that just evoke that time period, through and through. The rendered art is good to great, and the plots fit well within the shortness of the pages allowed. Of the two, “Reflections in a Black Pool” ends up being my favorite of the entire book, being nicely fleshed out from start to finish, regardless of any perceived transparency by the reader. Regardless, the art of “The Other Side” really steps forward for that story, stretching difficulty in picking one favorite over the other. Good work from all involved in these two stories.
The three other tales I haven’t mentioned are by no means unworthy of attention. They are decent, solid stories that don’t quite match up to the two I focused on, either from device or personal preference. I really wanted to like “Pumpkin Smoosher”, but it just sits oddly against the others. Part of me wants a sequel, because it’s just weird enough to work. “Scattercrow” has some great imagery, but it also sits slightly askew from the others. It’s akin to a strange origin story for a weird, dark superhero character. “The Wire Brain” also has a great idea, but it falls short mostly due to the length. This one needed two or three more pages to get a good flow. I felt that this one, too, would benefit from a sequel.
Forbidden Gallery has some known names attached to it, particularly with Craig Hamilton and Art Director/colorist Daerick Gröss Sr. Most of the others are unknown to me, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out in the future, as all of them are talented. I have to credit Mull and Gröss for putting together a visibly attractive book, one with a classic comic feel to it. Well done, chaps.
On the six-pack scale of Sir Jon, (being how many beverages of beer it might/did take me to read the comic) Forbidden Gallery #2 gets an unusual 2 and 3/4ths. I can’t quite give it the full three bottles, nor can I give it 2 and a half. Give yourself a clap on the back, ACP Comics, you’re breaking my system. Who drinks 3/4ths a bottle of anything? What have you done to me?