Originally published in five separate comics between November 2012 and March 2013, the first volume of Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra’s horror comic series ‘Colder’ was later published in a collected volume in October of 2013 entitled ‘Colder: Volume 1’.

DLS Synopsis:
12th October 1941.  Barnstable, Massachusetts.  All hell had broken loose at the Sansid Asylum.  The building was ablaze, the patients running loose as the fire started to consume the building and its insane occupants.  However, as the flames licked at the feet of Declan Thomas, a searing white light cuts across the space above him - a grinning naked form striding out into the throngs of madness.  The strange new arrival leans into Declan’s ear and whispers one solitary word.  “Colder…”

Boston, Massachusetts. The present day.  For the past five years, twenty-nine-year-old Reece Talbot has been the legal caretaker for live-in patient – Declan Thomas.  When the clinic that Declan was housed at closed down, Reece had the catatonic man released into her custody.  She felt it was the right thing to do.  Besides, the mystery surrounding the man intrigued her.  He’d not uttered a solitary word in the whole five years that Reece had known him.  But she hoped to one day find the answer to who he is and why he was in such a coma-like state.  And most intriguingly of all – why he was so very cold.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Reece, a demonic soul-eater was prowling the streets of Boston looking for his next meal.  Nimble Jack isn’t your run-of-the-mill demon.  He’s quirky, eccentric and ever-so-slightly crazy.  And that’s exactly what he feeds off.  Other people’s madness.  The insane are a veritable feast to the nimble dimension-jumping predator.

With the arrival of Nimble Jack, Declan is woken from his coma-like state.  Declan knows he must step in to protect the woman who had so selflessly taken care of him over the last five years.  He also knows the enemy they face.  He met the demon some decades ago.  Back when his flesh was warm.  Back when the doctors were giving him Ergotamine.

The drug had opened up new pathways.  But it also brought with it new hungers.  Now he must use his ability to step into the world of insanity, and take on the roaming madness that is plaguing the streets of Boston.  However, he knows that they are also being hunted.  A demon has been waiting for decades to feast upon the soul of Declan.  Now, is the time for Nimble Jack to take what he has been longing to consume for so many years.  However, with Declan’s body temperature dropping, time is quickly running out...

DLS Review:
Insanity offers up some pretty fertile ground for horror to flourish from.  It’s at the very core of Paul Tobin’s ‘Colder’ graphic novel series.  Indeed, Tobin wholeheartedly embraces the (slightly sensitive) potential behind insanity; creating a strange new world out of the chaotic realms of a madman’s mind, which his story then utilises as a horror playing field.

What we have here is a story of a soul-eating demon who’s going about the streets of Boston, feasting upon the souls of those gripped with madness.  Furthermore, this quirky demon is looking to finally pick off the soul of the long-suffering Declan.  However, Declan has his own ideas on the matter.  He knows all too well what Nimble Jack has in store for him.  So, together with his particularly attractive caretaker, the two try to escape from the grips of the soul-hungry demon.

It has to be said that the oddness of the storyline is complimented near-perfectly by the vividly exaggerated illustrations provided by artist Juan Ferreya.  Strong characterisation is also essential for such a character-driven narrative.  Tobin clearly knows this, and has therefore given his three principal characters particularly strong personalities which drive the storyline onwards with an energetic rhythm that’s utterly compelling.

But going back to the artwork itself for a second – illustrator Juan Ferreya really has to be commended for the superb work he’s done, not only with injecting a real flare within each character, but also with the consistent energy that buzzes off each and every frame.

Paul Tobin also has a fairly hefty hand in maintaining said energy – with a speeding pace to the narrative that keeps the story running at double-time and the tension on a permanent high.  In fact, at times you’ll even feel that the constant galloping pace of the storyline could perhaps gain from taking a small breather – a brief break allowing you time to assess the madness and mayhem and prepare for the next mind-boggling onslaught.  However, you’ve got no such luck I’m afraid – its head down and charge onwards with a storyline that’s packed to the rafters with quirks and abrupt turns to keep you on your toes.

Returning to my earlier point on the graphic novel utilising three strong characters – the personality injected into our principal antagonist, both by Tobin and Ferreyra, is incredible.  Nimble Jack is a wacky and outrageously over-the-top jester-like-demon – a sort of crazy-ass Joker if he was played by Jim Carrey and given a 1950’s ‘Cabaret’ image.  Indeed, his wild mannerisms and strange eccentricities are one of the key aspects that really make the graphic novel the success that it is.

The character of Declan Thomas has a strong, gritty personality, with plenty of rough-around-the-edges traits to make him feel suitably tough, yet believably flawed.  Reece Talbot is undoubtedly the weakest of the three; with less personality bursting out of her (other than the instantly projected ‘caring’ side).  In fact, most of Reece’s involvement in the story (thus far at least) is to merely be a damsel in distress – whom Declan can try to protect and subsequently rescue.

The other aspect of the graphic novel that really wins you over is with the nightmarish imagination of Tobin and Ferreyra that’s projected through so many of the haunting illustrations.  In the ‘other world’ – a parallel dimension where madness is everywhere – Ferreyra has truly outdone himself with the nightmarish depictions of horror on offer.  Imagine a maddening urban landscape that’s been designed by Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher at the very peak of one hell of a bad trip.  Add in beasts and messed-up terrors that seem to have been plucked from the collective minds of Lovercraft and ‘The Thing’ era John Carpenter.  Yes indeedy – this is most certainly horror!

Ultimately what you have with this first ‘Colder’ volume  is a fast-paced race into a world of spiralling insanity where things just keep on getting more and more messed-up.  In fact, insanity has never seemed so terrifying…

The graphic novel runs for a total of 110 pages (including a 13 page ‘Sketchbook’ showcasing designs and comments by artist Juan Ferreyra).

© DLS Reviews

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