Wednesday 11 November 2020

Dark Comic Review: Murky Waters: Tales From Beneath

Dark Comic Review: Murky Waters: Tales From Beneath

Review by Casey Douglass

Murky Waters: Tales From Beneath

For a long time, I’ve been drawn to media that explores the ways that reality, perception and imagination all interplay in our view of the world. I believe this started for me, when I was in the first throes of undiagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as an almost teenager. I think I knew that my mind was taking liberties with the reality it presented to me, but I still fell down the rabbit hole of fear. Murky Waters: Tales From Beneath is a full colour, 56 page collection of eight dark comic book stories. These tales look at some of the ways that our minds play with reality, and reading this about it, was more than enough for it to get my attention.

There are a number of philosophical and unnerving elements on offer in Murky Waters’ pages. These range from the way that others view us and how this might define us, to paranoid notions of being watched or controlled, and ponderings about the nature of what happens to us after death. If that wasn’t enough, there is the way that suffering might affect the mind, questions about imprisonment and entertainment, and the internal pressures to be authentic. A number of these stories manifest in only one or two pages, so as you might expect, the imagery and layout has to do some stellar work in gripping the reader’s mind. I felt that they all achieved this nicely, each in their own way.

Darkness Unending

Darkness Unending is a prime example of this. It opens with images of a woman’s face, mainly her eyes and nose. She is pondering how different religions view the conundrum of the afterlife. The camera pulls back and we notice blood. We also hear the sounds of combat off to the side. This story felt like an ever expanding frame, with the woman as the focal point and the view pivoting around her. I really liked how almost every cell gives the reader more information and context as to what is happening in the scene, and the climax is certainly a fun one.

Cogito Ergo Sum is another story that I really enjoyed. I loved the colour palette. It made fantastic use of cool sci-fi blues and mellow greens, which is fitting for a sci-fi story set in 2047. A woman hears voices at work and fears she is developing schizophrenia. As with other stories in Murky Waters, nothing is quite as it seems, and it turns out that this woman might actually be right to worry, even if the truth is a little different, and far darker, than the one that she fears.

Cogito Ergo Sum

Above, I said that some of the stories tell their tale in very few pages. Breaking Down The Walls takes just one page to tell its own, a mere six panels. It would be very hard to comment on it without saying too much, but its brevity and fourth wall breaking both go hand in hand to make what I thought was a really impactful moment in time.

The last tale I will mention by name is House of Cracks, mainly because it brings me back to how I opened this review, talking about OCD and how the mind can colour what we see. House of Cracks features a couple trying to overcome loss. The woman initially sees problems with cracks in the wall, and no amount of reassurance sets her mind at ease. She becomes obsessed with other things as the story progresses, all of which seem to be distractions from the couple’s shared emotional suffering, or maybe just manifestations of her own torment. The artwork and colours of this story show how two minds can view the world differently, even through the lens of shared suffering, and again, I found this a very satisfying read.

House of Cracks

All of the tales in Murky Waters are dark, thoughtful and clever. The twists and reveals all seemed very satisfying to me, and going back and re-reading each story once I’d got to the end gave me new things to appreciate and to notice. If you like horror, sci-fi and philosophical ideas, all rolled up in striking imagery and intriguing narratives, I think you'll enjoy Murky Waters too.

Murky Waters was created and written by Christian Carnouche, who is also the creator of The Resurrected mini-series. A whole host of international artists (see below) have come together to bring these stories to life, each bringing their own flavour to the images created on the page. A Kickstarter has just begun to try to raise funding for the initial printing run, and this has a whole host of rewards and benefits for the backers. If you like the sound of Murky Waters, head over to the Kickstarter and see if there is a support option that you might want to take advantage of.

I was given access to a review copy of this anthology.

Comic Book Name: Murky Waters: Tales From Beneath

Author: Christian Carnouche

Editor: Erica Schultz

Artists: Gabriela Contreras, Christian DiBari, Alex Diotto, Matthew Dow Smith, Triona Farrell, Ismael Hernandez, Maan House, Allison Hu, Dearbhla Kelly, Ariela Kristantina, Roshan Kurichiyanil, Lala Narita, Devmalya Pramanik and J. Schiek. Donna. Also, A. Black, Iain Laurie and Sachi Ediriweera produced pin-ups for the campaign.

Cover By: Tula Lotay.

Lettered By: Cardinal Rae

Publisher: Carnouche Productions

Kickstarter Link: