It’s been a few months since we last reviewed a Decadence book (Stathis Tsemberlidis’s Binary Decay last Autumn) but those perennial ELCAF favourites will be exhibiting again this weekend and, after our Tom Baker’s major retrospective on their output for last year’s ELCAF Fortnight, it would seem criminally irresponsible not to revisit their comics again for this year’s festival.
With its claustrophobic, urban tension, Lando’s Crescent Loop is a fascinating divergence from an artist perhaps most associated with sprawling post-apocalyptic dystopias and vast, barren alien environments. (As evident in Breakdown Press’s collection of his work in Gardens of Glass). Described as “a Quantum experiment in a new town housing estate” it sees recognisable contemporary suburbia, cyclical paradox and urban horror all come crashing into each other.
Lando’s comics have an often allegorical symbolism to them; powerful social commentary embedded in their sci-fi and fantasy trappings. This may of course be the same here but his tale of a young man haunted by an undead-looking humanoid slowly encroaching on his estate home could just as easily be interpreted on a more immediate emotional level as a tense metaphor for explorations of identity and displacement. Sometimes, as small press mainstay Douglas Noble once said to me “anything that a reader finds is theirs to take away” and the multiple levels on which this story can be interpreted give it extra layers of interactive appeal. To say more would be to deprive the audience of discoveries that are theirs to make but the comic’s chilling denouement is hauntingly memorable.
That slow build-up of emerging malevolence as that presence gets slowly nearer has echoes of M.R. James’s ‘The Mezzotint’ to it. Tautly paced with packed multiple panels adding to the sense of frantic terror in the key scenes it’s the juxtaposition of the everyday and the otherworldly that makes Crescent Loop such a disturbing read. If you’re at ELCAF this weekend then note also that Lando has a a special comic Wood Hall just for the festival.