The House in the Wood Part One
This will be an odd review to write, because it’s for an interactive comic. Granted, comics are printed, so it’s hard to interact with them, but these were all originally panels on Cailey’s website and readers were invited on the path that the character should take. Which is a great idea; I’ve seen “choose your own adventure” comics, but for this comic it looks like the other possible path that could have been taken for each panel was simply never written and drawn. Or maybe they were, which would be an interesting comparison if a collected edition was ever put together. Anyway, this is the story of somebody who arrives to a creepy house around midnight. Oh, and each page is told in the form of a rhyme, which I should mention. From there our heroine sees a staircase heading up and also hears whispering off to the side. The readers chose the whispers, which led down a hallway filled with mirrors. The option was then either to respond to the whispers or follow a set of footprints, and the readers then chose the footprints. See what I mean? Three pages in and it could have already veered off into a few different directions. This book collects the first 19 installments, and it looks like that was the last of them according to her Tumblr page. Or she’s taking a break? She clearly is juggling a few different projects, so it might be a good idea to check in on this later. Either way, this is a fascinating concept that was done really well, so check it out and think about what you would have picked!
OK, full disclosure time: I noticed the cover for this comic while I was working the Board of Elections table at SPACE this year (2016, for future readers or temporally confused time travelers) and couldn’t pass it up. I still think it’s mesmerizing, with the ghosts mixing with the other ghosts and the color changes. There’s also a clever pun, and those always draw me in when done well (and it’s so easy to not do them well), but I’m an objective reviewer, so no clever title/amazing cover is going to woo me! I shall only judge the contents of the book! And… yeah, I liked that a lot too. This is the story of a recently risen ghost (and/or recently dead person; I have no idea how long it takes for a theoretical ghost to appear) who rises up and tries to greet his or her fellow ghosts. Our hero is awfully cheery about the whole thing, but I do like the idea of starting any new undertaking with optimism. Did I throw a pun in there? I say no. Anyway, our hero tries to chat with other ghosts and discovers that they aren’t the chattiest bunch. From there we get some brief insight into what this ghost was like when it was still alive, followed by further attempts to make an impression on the other ghosts. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a compelling and wistful short comic that has me curious to see what else Cailey has done. She did mention that she’s a student at the local art college (CCAD), which makes this book even more impressive, as she’s still learning. I did grab her other comic too, so I’ll put a review up of that in the weeks to come, but I know for sure that I can wholeheartedly recommend this one.