Review by Ian Keogh
The never seen Mr Void occupies the seventh floor of his large mansion, the remainder of which has been converted into apartments rented to tenants. Only one of them knows that should they make a specific wish when on the premises then that wish will come true. It will however, only work once. It’s nicely illustrated by the short opening chapter in which a tenant wishes the rain would stop, unaware they could have wished for anything.
Void’s Enigmatic Mansion is adapted from a collection of short stories by Korean writer JiEun Ha, set in Redford, a fictional town in an imagined late 1900s USA, the principles and conditions of which form the background to the stories. These are adapted by artist HeeEun Kim, for whom pacing isn’t a priority. The pages are filled with yearning looks and romanticised consideration of circumstances, and Kim draws many people as if teenagers dressing up to play an adult, looking far younger than their apparent status in life. The most significant of these glamorous beauties is third floor tenant Lavelle, seemingly the only person aware of the house’s peculiarities.
Beyond the opening story we’re introduced to two other tenants. Mr Staff is a taxidermist whose premises double as his studio, and who is presented with a new commission he’s been advised to avoid, while the conflicted Dante attempts to make a living selling poetry, and is first attracted to a beauty, then repulsed on discovering she’s a prostitute. His story continues in Volume II.
In all respects other than the colouring, which takes wild swings from moody pastels into vivid acrylics, a deliberate sense of gothic horror and romance is cultivated, meaning Void’s Enigmatic Mansion should appeal to fans of Dark Shadows and its ilk. There’s a feeling that more is going on than this first volume reveals.