Comics Review: SINK #6, a survival tale

REVIEWER’S NOTE:  SINK Volume 1 (Issues #1 through #5) was my absolute favorite horror comic series of 2017.  I’m glad to learn that new stories of the creepy and disturbing fictional borough of Glasgow, Scotland will be released in the last two months of 2018. 

It also looks like the premium quality of the original series is being maintained (perhaps enhanced to even grander heights) – – so this could easily become my favorite horror comic of 2018.  

I’ll explain why in my advance review of SINK #6 below. This is scheduled for November release, but it’s not too late to contact your local comic shop and order a copy.  And, SINK #7 is scheduled for December release.  I haven’t seen it, but I assume it will be up to the standards established so far. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. 

SINK #6  (ComixTribe, November 2018 release)  “Death and the Midden”.  Story by John Lees.  Art by Alex Cormack. Colours by Alex & Ashley Cormack.  Letters by Shawn Lee.  Logo by Tim Daniel.  www.ComixTribe.com 

My two favorite genres in print and digital fiction, comics, and film are horror and crime. So far, SINK has straddled the line bordering the two genres  – – and that’s what makes it so appealing to me. Real world horror and crimes against humanity have always been more frightening to me than any monster, demon, or wicked witch. 

Viewing the emotional opening scenes of SINK #6 is comparable to being punched in the face repeatedly.  More sensitive readers are likely to read the remaining pages with a simulated hankie held to their mental nosebleed.

   The entire story of “Death and the Midden” is told through disturbing images. There are no accompanying captions or dialogue, aside from the occasional sound effects, grunts, shouts of outrage and frustration, and of course, the snickering giggles of the grisly jesters (“hee, hee, hee”).  The blue van loaded with maniacal clowns returns to Sinkhill once more, and is featured prominently.

Despite the absence of words, writer John Lees’ tale is far from a simplistic story.  It’s also more than just a sequence of violent events and images.  There’s a point to all this, a point to be made about being an involuntary resident of Sinkhill and what that means, and a point about humanity and the effects of trauma on the psyche.  I felt awful about what happened to the main character, how terrible for her, and the ending remained in my thoughts long after I finished reading. It’s disturbing how seemingly random events can trigger major changes in a person’s life. 

In addition, if the story doesn’t grab your attention and keep you engaged, the incredible art will certainly accomplish the task. This is the best issue yet from artist Alex Cormack, and that says quite a bit considering how consistent the quality and detail has been so far and how supportive of the story. Script and illustration go hand-in-hand, like all great comics should. The action occurs during a heavy rain shower, which lends a further sense of trouble to the proceedings. Cormack overlays the graphically detailed action with an incredible downpour of thin diagonal white lines over a black background that fail to conceal the bloody exchanges beneath them. It’s the best use of rain to indicate dread since Frank Miller’s work on SIN CITY. 

The above bits of information should be enough to convince most readers to pick up SINK #6. Just in case, I’m going to share a little more, but – – be advised there are spoilers from this point forward. 

     There’s a synopsis in the back of the book that serves as a reminder of what readers have just witnessed:

     “A young nurse wakes up in the back of a blue van, surrounded by murderous clowns . .  . And the night only gets worse from there!  But in her flight to survive, she’ll discover just how resourceful — and dangerous – – she can be.”

     The regular cover to SINK #6 serves as the first panel of the story, as poor Charlotte is abducted by the clowns and pulled into the back of the blue van. Readers won’t learn her name until after the story ends, and only if they read the accompanying text piece by writer John Lees. The anonymity serves the story well and enhances the impact – – this could happen to anyone, a total stranger or your mother, your spouse, your sister, your friend. 

   The clowns viciously mutilate our protagonist, ripping her mouth open into a wry Joker-like grimace and affixing a red rubber clown nose (with needles inside) to her face.  She manages to kick her way out of the van, falling hard into the pouring rain. She doesn’t get far, and ends up being tossed over a bridge. 

  She comes up out of the water beside the “Midden” of the title, which is just another word for dunghill (ugh) or refuse heap. Among the garbage she finds a half empty bottle of liquor and a rusty stapler. Using the alcohol to sanitize the stapler, she attempts to repair her broken face. If it seems like I’m telling too much, but I want to entice you to pick up this book.  Nothing can prepare you for what you will see. 

   The clowns just won’t let her be, and return to torment poor Charlotte.  But she utilizes what she finds in the garbage dump to defend herself, and manages to escape, driving away in the blue van. She gets a short glimpse of her grieving family, but her reflection in a window reminds her that she can never go home again. The ending is very disturbing and she rides away, recognizing another passing blue van, and realizing that she’s turned a fateful corner in her life and is headed down unfamiliar roads. 

There’s even more value in this issue with a short one-page comic and a text piece by Lees.  “Flats”, a Sink tale written by John Lees with art by Brian Level and letters by Shawn Lee is a grim one-page account of some high-rise apartment buildings and their terminal use by those who have given up or are persuaded to give up. 

In the text piece “Blue Van Ruin: The Power of Silence” Lees gets into his inspiration and influences on the story.  He explains how using framing, pace and perspective determine whether a story becomes a crime procedural or a horror thriller.  SINK #6 successfully manages to incorporate both crime and horror – – and I couldn’t be happier!

RATING SYSTEM

STORY: Tired of reading super-hero stories?  Want to explore the graphic story-telling possibilities of a clever blend of crime and horror?  Here you go. Blunt, brutal, and heavy. 3 POINTS

ART: Stunning. Too good to glance over, so much detail. You’ll be forced to examine closely or miss the point of the story. But you’ll want to see it, even though you know you should look away.  3 POINTS

COVER: If you see this, you’ll already be pulled into the story (and the van).  2 POINTS.

READ AGAIN? Yes, you will. 1 POINT.

RECOMMEND? Yes. I believe this is a story you will be talking to your comic friends about. 1 POINT.

TOTAL RATING: 10 OUT OF A POSSIBLE 10 POINTS. NOT OFTEN ACHIEVED. DON’T MISS IT.

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