Review by Ian Keogh
Elly (or Ellie, depending on who’s talking) has a chemistry degree, which hasn’t been much help in finding viable work in the two years since she qualified. Those years have been filled with a succession of unsatisfactory employment experiences, and Linda Sejic runs through a selection of them amusingly explaining where they went wrong. Ellie (or Elly) is now reduced to applying to be the assistant to someone she’s been told is a creepy research professor, and whose job has been vacant for an age.
There are a lot of bonus pages, actually around a third of the book, giving Sejic the space to explain how Blood Stain originated with an illustration drawn by her husband embodying the Helloween lyrics from Dr Stein. She liked the look of the characters, and gradually worked them into her own story. It’s a comedy drama, engagingly told, but with little thought about pacing a plot. Sejic just has Elly (or Ellie) extemporise dialogue revealing her personality as she does so, along with a tendency to be a klutz when removed from her comfort zone. The bonus material suggests Blood Stain is constructed around three characters, the other two being Doctor Vlad Stein, of whom we actually see very little this time despite his cover prominence, and Serge, employed as his cook, but aware many other domestic tasks are needed. He manifests toward the end to meet Ellie (or Elly) and supply a more thorough explanation of what awaits when they arrive at the creepy mansion on top of a hill during a thunderstorm.
As good as Sejic is at freeform dialogue, the real selling point is going to be her gorgeous art. Male or female, she’s seemingly incapable of drawing anything other than the most attractive people on the planet, yet this isn’t in an exploitative way, that’s just the way they are. The topping is that she’s also exceptionally good at expressions and posing the cast, with the stiffness often associated with artists working in a figurative style entirely absent. The sheer attractiveness of the art distracts from there not being a lot of variety from page to page and backgrounds are a secondary consideration.
It’s a very leisurely journey, but by the end Sejic has established the cast and parameters that move us into Volume Two.