Over the summer when Broken Frontier contributed to Small Press Day with our “One-Tweet Reviews” event on Twitter there were a number of comics and creators new to me to catch my eye. One such artist was KitsuneArt of whose supernatural story Midnight Heart I described as “like a 1930s Universal horror film but with a distinctly contemporary twist”, before going on to observe “there’s a real clarity to the art here. An intuitive understanding of the storytelling strengths of working in black and white.”
Midnight Heart is set in London at the turn of the 19th century, at a time where the city is obsessed with the possibility that a curse is behind recent murders; one that is linked to the mummy of the priestess Hetmenuhyt that has led to the British Museum’s Egyptology department being closed for the duration. Sheila Watson, a young woman who refuses to allow the public panic around events to interrupt her own studies at the British Library, is determined to look into the enigma. Stealing into the museum and examining the mummy and its associated artefacts she finds herself having visions of ancient Egypt and discovers that her own links to Hetmenuhyt may be more intimate than she could ever have imagined…
Part murder mystery, part queer love story, Midnight Heart is a succinct and well constructed short story that takes the vengeful mummy standard of horror films and pushes it into alternative and unexpected directions. As a complete-in-one short story it’s satisfying both as a character piece and as a cautionary tale, and leaves the reader intrigued to see more of its likeable lead.
KitsuneArt’s visuals play a vital role in building up those supernatural elements and bringing them slowly to the fore. As I noted when I first spoke about the comic on Twitter she is skilled in her understanding that black and white comics are not simply comics without colour; that there are graphic storytelling devices that only B&W can offer and she exploits those to the full. One particularly neat trick earlier in the comic is the way in which a supernatural presence is depicted as lurking and seeping into the black gutters around panels. But light and shade are used so confidently throughout to enhance the otherworldly atmosphere, and there’s also a very assured silent sequence where so much is told through body language and visual characterisation that no further dialogue/exposition could ever be needed.
Midnight Heart is backed up with a generous amount of extras and background info. A suitably supernatural Halloween buy and a welcome introduction to the work of KitsuneArt.
KitsuneArt • Self-published, £8.00
Review by Andy Oliver