Writer/Artist: Nikkol Jelenic
Every so often, we like to take a break from the big publishers and take a peek at what the indie authors are doing. In this case, we’re checking out A Taste for Killing by Nikkol Jelenic, a horror anthology title from her Acid I comics label. From what I can gather, it’s a standalone story with some one-page short stories and pinups included in the back. The cover features a well-drawn cheesecakey image of a witch who’s just happened to strategically place her legs to avoid a making the cover x-rated. But how’s the story within?
The bulk of this issue concerns Jelenic’s story “Witch Eye Watches Elsa,” a story which taps into fairytale tropes of a boy and his sister who wander into the woods on hearing stories of an old witch who collects eyes and eats children. Predictably, one of the kids stumbles into a trap and soon finds himself prisoner in the home–or does he? Trapped inside the home, the boy soon learns that the woman who lives there has a much darker history than collecting children, and he’s forced to listen to her tale while an even darker force approaches the home.
Jellenic’s strong point is clearly in her art, in which she generally has a good sense of anatomy and page layout. Better, she can craft (no pun) a creepy environment with her portrayal of a bleak, haunted wood and the basement in which the boy finds himself. I had concerns that the art would lean towards being too sexualized–the cover certainly left me with that impression–but the interior had actual story content to it. As a note of caution, the cover has no real connection to the story within. The nude witch makes for a nice pinup, but doesn’t sell the reader on what’s happening inside.
The story itself isn’t bad and involves a few twists, hitting the right horror beats where it needs to. What could have used a bit of work is the exposition–the two children in the beginning aren’t really developed as anything other than ciphers who move the story forward. We don’t even get their names, and I’m not sure if the eponymous “Elsa” is the boy’s sister or someone else. We’re also never given on the backstory of Circe–the “witch” of the story–where she comes from, and what’s happened to her between the flashback portion of the story and the present day events. When we first meet her, she’s wearing coveralls with a “Dennis” nametag, suggesting she’s got a substantial backstory that’s not fully explainable in 22 pages of story. Still, the story concludes in a way that suggests it’s a closed tale and that future tales of Circe will be left to Jelenic’s discretion.
The remainder of the book is filled with guest contributions from several other indie authors and artists in the form of creepy pinups and one-page horror stories. They make for a nice way to fill out the issue and supplement the general horror themes of the story.
One thing the author does need to work on is improving the lettering used throughout the book. I’m no expert on comic lettering, but I’m aware that it’s typically done by computer now. The problem here is that whatever font is used here appears far too “regular” for lack of a better term. The bigger publishers use some form of lettering that has a much more organic feel to it, giving the illusion that it’s naturally written by human hand despite our knowledge that it isn’t. Whatever font was used in the main story is too distracting, and she should consider switching to something that doesn’t feel so flat on the page.
Still, as far as indie offerings go, this wasn’t bad and may be worth your attention if you should encounter Jelenic’s table at a convention. I’ve seen worse indie titles, and her art really does look solid. Consider giving this title a try if you need a diversion from the big publishers.
Rating: three out of five cauldrons.