Saturday, 28 April 2012

Why Should I Read... Rachel Rising?

You remember when you first listened to your favourite band? That feeling that you had discovered something new and special, that was just yours? That was the feeling I genuinely got reading Rachel Rising. I didn't necessarily expect to write that, but it's true. Getting in on the ground level with something that's just beginning, but you already know will be great is a real treat, and one that this book gave me in spades. Thing is, you have to be brave to pick this book up.

Starting something new is often a little scary. That's not a new concept, fear of the unknown is a constant in general human life. To counter this fear, we are imbued with an insatiable curiosity. Terry Moore takes both these staples of humanity and uses them as the building blocks for the structure of this horror piece. ComicBuzz describe him as a "master storyteller", and I don't see anything to dispute that in this first piece of the Rachel Rising story.

The first eight pages of Rachel Rising contain no dialogue. This is itself is an immense accomplishment, because the introduction to the lead character couldn't be more gripping. The artwork used is simple and effective, stark lines and ink blocks with no shading forced my brain to fill in the intricacies and draw me in to the story. I turned the page, presented with the details of a basic human fear; death before you are prepared for it. Ultimately the staple for every horror and thriller book (or artistic horror effort of any kind), but in this instance it's so well-presented, it's border-line attractive. The artwork also meets the script in a wonderful companionship, in a way that I feel comes from the artist and writer being one in the same.

When the dialogue does begin, Moore does not force the issue. His words are just like the artwork in that they are clear and uncomplicated, easing you along. He's avoided complex or slick vocabulary in favour of honesty. He has avoided gimmicks in favour of clarity. He has avoided shock tactics, there's no strong language in favour of consistency. As a result, the story slid gently in to my brain making reading very easy. I know it's a horrendous cliché, but at times I genuinely wasn't sure whether I was turning the pages or the story was making me.

I don't want to mislead you, this is a horror book, and it does have the power to shock. The concepts are certainly not all original, but my particular turn-on for this book is that I have not seen this kind of presentation before. Fans of the big Whedon franchises will most likely gravitate to this book, for example. They should, because I like those kind of stories, and I like this book. Not because of the comparison, it certainly stands on it's own merits. I like it for it's uncompromising approach, that comes for the aforementioned writer/artist singularity. It's not often when you can feel that the originator of the story has poured his brain on to the pages which is the feeling I took away from my first read.

As with every book, Rachel Rising may not be for everyone. Horror books became fashionable again a few years ago, and like all good corporate driven industries, they've been squeezed until the zombie juice has run dry. Über violence has been played out for a good while too, and any die-hard reader of the genre is most-likely desensitised. These factors could steer a potential reader away from 'just another horror book'. But these are also the reasons I feel compelled to push you to pick up a copy of Rachel Rising. This is stuff that's been done before, but it's fresh.

Elvis did rock and roll, but I didn't love the music until I heard the likes of Kiss and AC/DC. To be fair, I wasn't there when those bands first put out an album, but I was able to get in on the Rachel Rising story right at the start. Ok, they may not be on the same level, but they both make me feel good. I think you might like reading Rachel Rising whilst listening to AC/DC...

Chris Boyle thinks that if you want blood, you got it.

1 comment:

  1. I knew beforehand that a Rachel Rising article was going to be posted here. Being a fan of Terry Moore and having been with this book from the start, I decided to gather my own thoughts about Rachel Rising. That way I could see whether others saw what I see in it.
    It was nice to see that the dialogue-free opening was highlighted. I thought it was a particularly effective introduction to the book.
    I was also pleased that the joined-up nature of Moore's script and art was appreciated. Definitely an advantage of a writer/artist. Some comics can come across as just text with pretty pictures behind it.
    I'd also mention that one of the great strengths of Terry Moore's work is his characterisation. His characters come across so well and make you want to follow them.
    Rachel Rising deserves a large audience and I don't think that people who pick it up will be disappointed.