It’s the end of the world as we know it and you should feel terrified. Written and illustrated by Richard Sala, ‘The Hidden’ is a monster-mash apocalypse tale combining B-movies and gothic classics without feeling like a carbon copy of either.
The book starts strong with a zombie-like attack on a town. The only survivor, a professor by the name of Victor, flees the area and stumbles into the desert. While there, he comes across various other survivors and together they try to find a safe haven and piece together what happened.
Deciding to head to an abandoned diner for refuge, they are faced with the shocking realisation that the professor may be involved in what happened and that there may be no salvation for them or humanity.
The story is kept quite tight, we only know what the main characters know. The rest of the world may be just fine but there’s a horrible feeling that this is not the case. Dialogue is kept to a minimum as well, with very little exposition. Nothing unnecessary is said by the characters, they’re too concerned with their own survival for chit-chat.
Richard Sala’s artwork contains massive detail in every nook and cranny. The Professor ages visibly in front of us in just a few pages and the monsters are terrifying in their simplicity. The use of watercolours in the art gives it a children’s storybook feel that will stir up memories of reading horror stories underneath the covers by torchlight.
Despite this warm look, ‘The Hidden’ is gripping, chilling and certainly not for children. It offers ups some genuine scares, especially in the closing scenes of the book. Despite its borrowing from the horror staples, it deserves its own spot as a classic of the genre.
(pub: Fantagraphics. 134 page square hardback graphic novel. Price: £14.99 (UK), $19.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60699-386-6)