2019, Dusk Comics
Writer: David Doub
Art: Dominic Racho
Letters: Daniel Chan
David Doub (Dusk, The Trials and Tribulations of Miss Tilney) pens this effective anti-bullying parable, set in 90s Texas and partly inspired by his own experiences.
Peter, Tommy, Valeria and Eric are a quartet of geeks, each bullied for a different reason, for whom sanctuary comes in the form of a D&D style fantasy tabletop RPG. What begins as a realistic High School drama, however, soon takes an even darker turn. While venting out their frustrations on their tormentors during a roleplaying session, the group inadvertently summon a malevolent barbarian hellbent on killing those who’ve hurt them.
Dominic Racho’s superb art lends a sense of weight to both the real world and fantastical elements. His observed characters, meticulously detailed locations and serrated inks reminded me of the Sean Phillips’ early interior work, bringing the best out of Demons in the Darkness’s believable characters with a strong sense of period and setting.
I’ll admit that I enjoyed the realistic portion of the book more than the Tales from The Crypt styled revenge story that it ultimately becomes, but Doub juggles some really interesting and heartfelt ideas here, particularly on the vicious circle of violence and harassment. Most interesting of his main characters is aggressive metaller Tommy, who is just as damned by toxic masculinity as the vicious bullies who’ve made his life hell.
Doub will be crowdfunding Demons in the Darkness this September [UPDATE: it’s now live], as part of Kickstarter’s month long Small Press Expo celebration. I reviewed a black and white copy of the comic, though I believe it will be released in colour. Racho’s inks and Daniel Chan’s letters will look fantastic either way.