The Forest

Thomas Ott. Fantagraphics, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68396-516-9
Ott’s wordless graphic novella showcases his mastery of haunting black-and-white illustration with its images of quiet menace. Told through a series of full-page etchings on black scratchboard (using the technique of scratching away light marks from a dark top-layer), the narrative introduces a boy with haunted eyes who runs away from a family funeral and into a deep, dark forest, where he encounters a series of disturbing sights: a faceless, hairy monster; a floating nude woman; a path of bones. He stands staring into the forest, and the reader is held at the precipice with him. But his dreamlike descent into the land of the dead is less horrific than it first seems, and the boy’s silent quest leads him to a reconciliation with loss. The brief story and its parable about grief passes quickly, but there’s plenty to pore over in each delicately rendered page. Ott excels at evoking a vast, shadowy wilderness that dwarfs the human characters and infuses every scene with melancholy and foreboding. Lovers of classical illustration techniques and eerie art will be drawn to this simple but elegant fable. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/16/2021
Release date: 02/15/2022
Genre: Comics
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