Sammy Ward is fast establishing herself as one of the UK indie scene’s finest purveyors of eerie supernatural comics fare. Previous forays into the genre have been notable for their narrative economy, unsettling us as much for what we don’t see as what we do. Her minicomic The Deeper You Go Into the King’s Wood, for example, was all about atmospheric build-up rather than gratuitous scares, while last year’s All Ghosts: A Slice of the Afterlife gave us single image vignettes that invited us to expand on the events within them ourselves. Her most recent collection is Not Another Haunting! which brings together thirteen ghost stories ranging from 1-5 pages each, once again using the limited confines of restricted page count to heighten the tension of each piece.
Given that to describe any of the stories herein beyond the most concise of mentions would then, by definition, ruin the surprises and twists of each entry it’s important to only give a flavour of these mostly one-page strips. In Not Another Haunting! Ward introduces us to such wonders as an environmentally conscious ghost, a slacker spirit, moorland presences, and online horror. Much of the success of her approach is in the careful build-up to semi-punchlines and/or moments of revelation. But there are some truly inventive takes on the genre here, especially ‘The Idle Hand’ which may just be the cleverest short comic I have read in 2023 and instantly became one of my all-time favourite ghost stories to boot.
Ward’s art has continued to grow in confidence and assuredness over the last few years, something I have been most aware of having covered most of her back catalogue since announcing her as one of our Broken Frontier ‘Six to Watch’ artists in 2022. With Not Another Haunting! it would be reductive to apply the term “black and white art” to her visuals which use, with great skill, a number of shades of grey to influence mood and tone. It sounds, of course, like a total contradiction in terms to say that Ward somehow manages to combine both a clear line and an atmospheric indistinctness and yet somehow she does.
Not Another Haunting! will no doubt be recognised as the moment when, for many, the full potential of Sammy Ward’s practice became apparent. Of course, as ever, we’ve been telling you to sit up and take notice of her practice for a few years now at BF…
Sammy Ward (W/A) • Self-published, £8.00
Review by Andy Oliver