by Wes Craig
I've been a big fan of Wes Craig's work on Rick Remender's excellent series Deadly Class, and first saw the potential in his art when he drew a few issues of the good Guardians of the Galaxy run, but had never read anything he had completed on his own before walking past his table at TCAF this year. I thought it wasn't much of a risk to take a chance with Black Hand Comics, his collection of three stories that were originally released online. The book is a wide, narrow hardcover, and each story shows off a very different approach by Craig.
The first, The Gravedigger's Union is a fun story about the real work of cemetery maintenance crews, which is mostly done after dark, when the dead get up. It's told in black and white.
The second story, Circus Day, is a bit of a coming of age story about a boy who visits a travelling circus with his sister, after being forbidden to do so by his father. The kid wants to see the freakshow, despite not having enough money to enter. When his sister goes off with one of the acrobats, he gets up to some mischief. Visually, this story is closest to Craig's work on Deadly Class, although he uses more painterly effects, and has some fun with sound effects.
The final story, The Seed, is the creepiest, and best shows off just how good Craig can be. The story is slight; it's about a man who is fleeing from some people who took him in and helped him, but who seem to be a part of a cult. There's a darker aspect to this, but I don't want to spoil it. Here, Craig tells the story in a mix of flashback and present, and it's easy to envision these pages being spread in a straight line around a gallery wall.
This is a very impressive book, although it is frustratingly finished too soon.