In the remote backwoods of Kentucky, people get by however they can, and for Iris Gentry, that means running moonshine so he can support his son and pregnant wife. But his simple life takes a turn for the…well, dark and bloody when a supernatural threat emerges. After all, when you’re isolated and miles from town, that’s an awfully long way to call for help.
Such is the backdrop of THE DARK AND BLOODY, the new Vertigo horror comic from writer Shawn Aldridge and artist Scott Godlewski. With issue #1 now on the stands, we asked Shawn if he’d mind offering some commentary on the first seven pages. Here’s what he had to say about our introduction to Iris and his sweat-and-’shine world.
This first scene is literally the first scene I thought of after working out the story. I always knew the book would start here. Page 1 is the last time we see Iris Gentry, our main character, with any innocence. Scott giving him a wagon added an extra layer to that innocence. I think it also sums up one of the themes of the book, isolation/being alone, rather nicely.
It's all downhill from here, as they say. We say good-bye to innocence and some puppies. Also the line that breaks across both pages, “This ain't about cruelty, it's about survival,” is the book in a nutshell.
Another flashback, another moment that defines Iris. We never go back to Iris' childhood after this, at least not in flashback form, but we do return to Iraq on a few occasions. I didn't want to overload on the flashbacks. We only go back to Iraq when necessary, when a story element from that time needs to be addressed. I think if you go back and forth too much, both time periods begin to lose their impact. You run the risk of the reader not being able to focus or get comfortable in either period. There's a balance that you hope to achieve.
Iris is still conflicted here with what is done and what he feels should be done. The white crosses he draws are a coping mechanism. He draws them as much for himself as he does for the dead. The crosses come into play later. His line about how everyone deserves God's grace is both a declaration and a hope. These pages also give us the first look at Eric Foster, who plays a vital role in the events that set up the rest of the book.
The present. Finally. Here is the Iris the previous scenes made—a man struggling with his past and trying, in his own way, to escape it. He's home, safe, and in the only place he's ever felt he belonged. The war is still there, but he does his best to push it back. The last lines on page 7 not only sum up his thoughts on drugs, but also foreshadow the conflict to come—the outside creeping in to destroy.
THE DARK AND BLOODY #1 is now available in print and as a digital download. Want a little music to set the mood? Shawn’s also assembled a DARK AND BLOODY soundtrack. Click here if you’d like to check it out.