Comic Review: Rachel Rising. Terry Moore at his best!
Artist(s): Terry Moore
Writer(s): Terry Moore
US Publisher: Abstract Studios
Rachel wakes up in a shallow grave. Ergo the name of the title, since she has to get up! But the rest is a realistic and thus terrifying roller-coaster of mirth and mayhem.
Did I love Terry Moore in Strangers in Paradise? Mmhh… not sure. I respected him. Not sure I loved it.
I found the merit and the value on a male artist (and supposedly “straight” male artist, I read at the time) giving such depth and verisimilitude to a couple of female characters with all their character flaws and charms.
The art was not groundbreaking but got the job done efficiently. I loved how expressive his drawings were, that’s for sure.
And it was independent, so… yes, I admired it, although I wasn’t a fan.
And I was afraid he would then go back to his “two chicks and lots of dialogue” roots on his next work, but no. He went the other way.
He went the “Two Chicks and very little dialogue between them route” on Rachel Rising.
Rachel Rising is a pleasure to read, from the standpoint of the comic aficionado. Terry Moore is one of those few and rare western (as in “not from the East”, not “Western” as John Wayne) authors who is able to render onto the pages of his work the intimacy and self-assured pacing of manga. The good manga, mind you.
I can state in no uncertain terms that anyone can enjoy this series. You don’t need to be a fan of Terry Moore, although if you have been exposed to his previous works, you will be in a better position to appreciate more his evolution and changes, his progression and the pliability of his art, how he adapts and succeeds at adjusting so well to a genre so far away from his roots in the buddy-buddy comic.
If your taste lays exclusively in capes, guys running around with their underwear outside thier pants and lots of POW BLAM ZOOOEY, you may be a bit at lost here, albeit I still think you may enjoy it.
Terry Moore tells stories using the pacing to a degree that I have only seen in a few masters in modern western comic book tradition. He may be a bit of an unknown in the circles of the Big Two, but let me assured you, he has put out the books, he has paid his dues, and I don’t mean only the copious and meritorious novels, such as Strangers in Paradise and Echo. I am also referring the teaching art books
like the wonderful Terry Moore How To Draw Women, that has such a plethora of expressions and poses that it should be a must for any budding artists.
Back to Rachel Rising, the pacing is superb. The vignettes fall into place with the cadence that a music would’ve provided had we been watching a Motion Picture, instead of reading a fine comic.
The characters, once again, are rich and new, and exciting, because when you read about them, you reach a nirvana-like balance between verisimilitude and fantastic story telling. And this is something that every writer should strive to master: how to depict realistic characters in fantastic settings.
Terry also achieves something that has become a staple of his all through his career in comics: makes women balanced leading characters.
These ladies get angry, get soft, get feisty and sexy, but they never ever get cheesy or uni-dimensional. Her characters are such a window into a woman’s life and psyche the I’ve seen very few authors achieve in comics, and more writers should try to emulate.
Not everything have to be over the top praises for Mr. Moore. I noticed that in his story to achieved some inconsistency between his script and his art, and it was a pretty flagrant one.
SPOILER ALERT: (You may skip till the header END OF SPOILER)
When Rachel rises from her grave, we can see inside the niche and see dirt. Later, in issue 3 or 4, she is conversing with a friend and brings up the fact that she felt in the grave that she was propped against another corpse. I researched interviews and Terry Moore stated he started the script with her raising from a grave while on top of anther body. But in the art we see no other body. Now that may be intentional but so far, I am alarmed at the inconsistency, and I already read issue 5)
END OF SPOILER
But I can’t say that something like that turns me off from the whole series. I have no problem forgiving it, if it is a case of artist’s slip. Who know? Maybe it is a deliberated choice and in later chapters he will explian why did this happen?
The whole composition of the story is the equivalent of “the thinking man’s horror”. The subplots are intertwined with the main narrative in a perfect measure that never lets your attention and grasp for the story drop. Every switch of characters is justified and rewarding, and these are people you enjoy hearing talk and converse.
Again, perfect blend of story, character building, art, and sequential story telling.
Terry Moore also plays with the page composition, by playfully placing white spaces behind the black backdrop of the ink, and he has no rhyme nor reason for it, but it works. It works in equal measure in the way he makes the town in which the story is set as a creepy part of the narrative. Living in the North East US, and being an avid traveler, I have been to Massachusetts and Maine, and those Autumn woods are as creepy in real life as Terry is depicting it in these pages. I have a sense he is going to bring the surrounding into play in the story much in the similar way Junji Ito made the town part of the horror of Uzumaki.
I just can’t wait to get my hands on the next, and I will be picking up the first TPB that is announced for March.
In the meanwhile, Decapitated Dan (whose blot I read/listen all the time) did a great interview with Terry Moore
Go and take a listen. Very insightful on how tough it is to be a self-published comic book artist.
In you like black and white comics, and you miss some subtle horror ala’ Omen there is one pleasent surprise waiting in the pages of this book for you!
In my critic’s rating I give Rachel Rising 9 out of 10 stars.
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