The Hidden

By Richard Sala (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-160699-385-6

Richard Sala is a deserving Darling of the Literary Comics movement (if such a thing exists) blending beloved pop culture artefacts and conventions – particularly old horror films – with a soberly effective ability to tell a graphic tale.

He grew up in Chicago and Arizona before earning a Masters in Fine Arts, and after beginning a career as an illustrator rediscovered his love of comicbooks. The potentially metafictional self-published Night Drive in 1984 led to appearances in legendary 1980s anthologies Raw and Blab! and animated adaptations of the series on Liquid Television.

His work is welcomingly atmospheric, dryly ironic, wittily quirky and mordantly funny; indulgently celebrating childhood terrors, gangsters, bizarre events and manic mysteries, with girl sleuth Judy Drood and the glorious trenchant storybook investigator Peculia the most well known characters in his gratifyingly large back catalogue.

Sala’s art is a jolting joy to behold and has graced many outside-industry projects such as work with Lemony Snickett, the Resident and even – posthumously – Jack Kerouac; illustrating the author’s outrageous Doctor Sax and The Great World Snake.

His latest appetising shocker The Hidden returns to the seamy, scary underbelly of un-life with an enigmatic quest tale following the few “lucky” survivors who wake up one morning to discover civilisation has succumbed to an inexplicable global Armageddon, with no power, practically no people and ravening monsters roaming everywhere.

Trapped on in the fog on a mountain, Colleen and Tom emerge into the world of death and destruction before promptly fleeing back to the wilderness. As they run they find an amnesiac bum, who uncomprehendingly leads them to other young survivors with their own tale of terror, a place of sanctuary in the desert and the shocking true secret of the disaster…

Clever, compelling and staggeringly engaging, this fabulous full-colour hardback is a wonderfully nostalgic escape hatch back to those days when unruly children scared themselves silly under the bedcovers at night and will therefore make an ideal gift for the big kid in your life – whether he/she’s just you, imaginary or even relatively real…

© 2011 Richard Sala. All rights reserved.