The ocean is fucking scary. Seriously, have you ever seen it? It is endless (I of course know that the ocean ends. I’m not one of those crazy “Flat Earth People”… Holy crap! Just spent the last 13 hours watching ‘flat earth’ videos on YouTube, I am now wholeheartedly convinced the earth is indeed flat.) and the sheer size of it is so overwhelming just thinking about it puts me damn near a panic attack. The real scary shit happens when we break the surface of the water. There’s stuff under there that belongs solely in our nightmares. Don’t believe me? Just watch the headlines and every couple of weeks there is a story about some horrible sea monster that was discovered apparently just to terrify me and keep me from ever going on a cruise. Comic book writer, Tom Smith (zero relation that I am aware of…) seems to understand my views of the sea and decided to add new layers to my fear with his comic Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but I’m 100% sure TOPLOF is a creepy little book that reads like a missing Twilight Zone episode.
Benjamin and Catherine are a young couple on vacation at a beach. Remember when you were a kid and you’re parents would take you to the beach and tell you not to bring anything home because you might bring back gross bugs or germs? (What can I say I’m from Detroit, our beaches are exactly environmentally friendly) Well, Benjamin and Catherine never heard of this rule either and they bring home more than they bargained for. Slowing Benjamin becomes obsessed with barnacles he flushed down the toliet (after Cathrine asked him to take them back to the beach). But maybe there’s something more happening with these little sea urchins than Catherine realizes. Hopefully she’s not too late!
TOPLOF is a creepy and unsettling book. Smith forgoes big shocks and scares and instead creates an eerie atmosphere that has each page dripping with dread and doom. Nothing good will come to our heroes and I couldn’t help from turning the pages to find out exactly what horrible fate awaited them. This unnerving atmosphere is cemented by Whittle’s art. A cross between Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt (2 of my favorites in the comic world), Whittle is able to to match the tone set by Smith’s writing perfectly. I don’t know if Smith and Whittle have no each other for long (or at all), but I do know that rarely does artist and writer match-up this perfectly. A creative force is at work here folks. Except big things from these two!
When it comes to horror comic books we don’t have enough creators like Tom Smith and Katie Whittle. Creators who aren’t afraid to let their story breathe and take life. These two also get major points for not giving us another zombie book (Come on, comic book gods! We’ve had enough!). Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints is outstanding comic book that sticks with you long after you put it down.
Grab a copy of Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints Here