Sensory Distortion feels like a translation of horror movie to comic book. The question is, does it feel like a great translation, or is this title lost in translation? Is it nothing more than hack and slash or is there depth? While depth is fleeting in this title, this is not your normal hack and slash story, namely because the characters only enemy in this comic is themselves... and some wicked demon weed.
In this 88 page one-shot, a group of college kids go into the desert to party. After buying some demon weed from a local teenager, the teens have an enjoyable night of partying and hallucinating... when they return to college, however, their hallucinations come back and aren't party friendly.
All the teens (other than our protagonist Karen) blend together with the usual clichés attributed to every teenager in a Rob Zombie film. I can't be bothered to remember names or the subtly different shades of the same jock personalities. Their dialogue is cluttered with their foul mouths spouting pointless cussing and rarely being considerate for anyone besides themselves with a few small exceptions in the cast here and there but only for a moment.
An exception to the clichéd characters and the dialogue that defines them is made during a conversation between our protagonist Karen and her mother. It starts out with your average horror film quips – including shouting and extensive cursing. But it does morph into a genuine conversation as we see the mother really cares for her daughter, who's character is unique (in horror circles) because while being a Goth she is still smart and shy, but not withdrawn and without friends like some Goths are portrayed as in horror films (or even worse, a sex crazed nympho with a love for the dead). The only other two characters that come close to being likable are the Indian teen who gave the college kids demon weed and his grandfather. Both don't feel overwhelmingly developed, but both are clearly heroic.
The story itself is simple but unique. The mushrooms make the teenagers see their greatest fears. But it feels like the only fear explored in depth is Karen's. While she explored her fear in a very traumatic climax, followed by an even more tense climactic situation, her friends were not as well-treated. Their fears are only somewhat explored, usually only hinted at for a few panels and sometimes not even seen visually. Facing their fears is quick and happens in quick succession to every character, making this 88 page story feel rushed for the first and only time. However, the artwork accompanying all this suffering helped amplify the situations and gave the comic a genuine acid-tripping feel at points.
Sometimes the line work from penciler and inker David Brame is so confusing I can't tell what's going on in the panels to the characters. Usually, this is a sign the character is dying since the deaths look very rushed. But the artwork, despite being confusing, still manages to be great. Sometimes characters suffer from scrunched faces and bad hair days, but the line work gives them a unique design. What really makes the artwork great, however, are the colors. The colors, done brilliantly by Heather Breckel, are my favorite aspect of the artwork. I like the contrast between the dark and dingy atmosphere and the acid trippy variety of colors. The line work needs more detail and less lines. The disproportional bodies make the acid trip more vibrantly stand-out, but that should not continue into the real, pre-demon weed world.
After reading this comic, it has been a memorable experience, and I mean that in a good way. The artwork was so bizarre it became the main contributor to the mood. While most of the characters were not likable, it made their pain all the more enjoyable though rushed. This is a mature title with a lot of cursing ala Rob Zombie, so I'd suggest it to older teens. It's a horrific look at drugs but never a PSA, and a unique addition to a horror library cluttered with slashers and ghosts.
The backing for this project was recently complete, but to see a video about the comic on it's kickstarter page click here.
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.