Halloween Girl Book One: Promises to Keep

Halloween Girl Book One: Promises to Keep
Halloween Girl Promises to Keep review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Mad Shelley Comics - 979-8-218-08431-8
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2022
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9798218084318
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Supernatural

Charlotte is dead, yet is still able to walk the Earth, a gift provided as long as she continues to root out “hollows”. This is the term Richard T. Wilson supplies to supernatural beings plaguing humanity, starting with a giant spider in Charlotte’s first outing. She has a confidant and advisor in Poe, another attractive twenty-something woman, and is learning on the job, as likely to falter through inexperience than to succeed.

The internet era is both blessing and curse for anyone wanting to produce comics. The means are available to have work instantly seen and directed at an audience at a comparatively small cost, which is good.

The downside is so much work produced by unknown creators online just doesn’t match professional quality. Additionally, five artists with different styles on seven chapters is never welcome on a continuing story like Halloween Girl. A few show promise, but they’ll look back on their early mistakes with some embarrassment. The left sample art is from Stephen Mullan purely on the basis of his being one of only two artists illustrating two chapters. He’s neither the best nor worst, but represents the flaws of others. There’s a lack of basic storytelling, focus on faces and figures is almost universal, and because backgrounds are considered unnecessary there’s never a proper sense of location. The nearest to professional standards is Eleanora Garofolo (sample spread right), the other artist seen over two chapters. Her page compositions are thoughtful, she takes the time to provide backgrounds, and her emotional content is strong. She experiments with the inking, which changes from page to page and there are some sloppy background figures, but she’s talented and potential is present.

Wilson is also learning on the job, growing from chapter to chapter. Those drawn by Mullan at the beginning are vague and hovering on the verge of explanations never actually provided, but by the fourth chapter he has a plot with a purpose. One would think Halloween Girl was the work of a new writer, but an IMDB page credits Wilson as responsible for six produced film and TV projects. Here the focus is never clarified, and the compression required for visual drama is absent, meaning over a third of Halloween Girl is completely unnecessary, too little said in too many panels. The end victory is unclear, as is Charlotte’s presence at all, other than a focal figure being needed. If the dead can be returned as agents and their mission is to deal with the Hollow, then surely more capable choices were available.

Enthusiasm is all well and good, but when customers are expected to pay around $20 for the result then they’ve a right to expect far better.