cover image The Hidden

The Hidden

Richard Sala. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (134p) ISBN 978-1-60699-386-6

An unnamed man dreams of a monster. Moments later, the world ends in nightmarish fashion, and the man flees the remains of civilization to hide in a cave, all the while saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Thus begins this new book by cartoonist and illustrator Sala. When a couple named Colleen and Tom, survivors of the recent apocalypse, find him a week later, they wonder who this man is. Even as he leads them to shelter, it is clear the key to their future lies in his past. Sala structures the story of the world’s end as a series of gruesome anecdotes told by Colleen, Tom, and other human and inhuman survivors. The story is rarely surprising in its turns, but the fun of reading it comes less through the plot than through Sala’s imaginative illustrations. Sala’s work is like a fusion of Hergé and Charles Addams, yielding a simple, cartoon-like style that makes his moments of gothic horror all the more disturbing. At times, the simplicity of the illustrations creates stiffness where a scene requires motion, and can produce clunky progression between panels. Taken as a whole, however, this is a beautifully pulpy and incredibly imaginative book that gives a fresh spin on a well-used set-up. (Sept.)