By Josh Simmons (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-56097-855-8

A young man walks through the woods, until he sees a ramshackle old house. Outside the derelict property he meets two young women and they strike up a conversation. Filled with high spirits, they decide to explore the dilapidated old mansion.

The place is a wreck. As they cautiously move deeper into the vast manse, the boy and the blonde girl begin to feel a mutual attraction…

When they discover that the back of the house has collapsed and is under water, forming an inviting pool, all three explorers all dive in and play in the rippling pool.

In a submerged room boy and blonde share a kiss. The dark girl knows something has happened, that all the relationships have shifted. With a new tension gripping them, they continue to explore, but nothing feels innocent now. And then the staircase collapses…

Josh Simmons set himself a daunting task with his early foray into the weirdscape of modern American Gothic. This entire tale is told without words. Settings, scenario and character are established and the narrative undertaken purely by making pictures and by manipulating light and dark, panel and space.

The manner in which an idyll becomes a terrifying, crushing, tragic nightmare is powerful, seductive and truly overwhelming in its delivery. Simmons – who went on to beguile and enthral in later works such Jessica Farm, The Furry Trap and Black River – succeeds here in crafting a true graphic narrative, a thrilling story in a manner and with a force that no other medium could.

Silent, compelling, wonderful: This is a book – available in hardback and in digital editions – no serious reader should ignore and no budding creator should miss.
© 2007 Josh Simmons. All Rights Reserved.