Amigo Comics 2018
Written by Desiree Bressend
Illustrated by Ruben Gill
Coloured by Alexandra Thone
Manga Dream by Irene Roga
PORTIA, a young American, tries to end her own life in AOKIGAHARA forest, notorious for the amount of suicides commited there each year. Ranger RYOKO WATANABE, plagued by guilt, rescues Portia... to see she’s being haunted by ghosts and the mythical YOKAI. This book is so stunningly well written and the interiors are hauntingly beautiful making this the best kept secret around.
We open up with another of Portia’s dream where the spirits of the forest call out to her and try to lure her to them. It just struck me that the forest and it’s denizens are much like the Siren’s of the Sea in that the call of each is strong and unrelenting. Creepy and unsettling as that sounds seeing here on the pages enhances that feeling tenfold. Desiree does this absolutely amazing job with how the book is structured and the whole ebb & flow of the levels of tension and unease that follow the poor girl everywhere she goes. This would be one of those times when you think to yourself, no one can make this shit up, but she has and it’s scarier for me and more in-depth than motion picture of the Forest could ever be.
To be so involved in the story and let it envelope you body and soul shows the kind of talent and skill that Desiree has as a writer. It isn’t just the how of it that is so nice to see but its the characterisation that goes along with it all that’s simply unbelievably good. To see the different sides of this in each character is a dynamic that feels right and wrong at the same time. Ryoko does what she does and hides the truth from Portia about the Forest and the spirits she sees. While yes there is a genuine feeling of caring coming from Ryoko her conflicted nature is the root of her inability to do things. So while we watch the women bond and evolve the inner conflict becomes more intense and makes the reader think more than what is available to see.
Ruben and Alexandra do some beautiful work on the interiors here. I love the way the colours are muted, all except for red of course. The shading and gradation that Alexandra brings to this has the most subtle and bold effects. Ruben’s attention to detail here is sublime. The linework is exquisitely done to show off the illusion of beings that only the girls can see. There is so much to what he does and what we see in those details including that which is utilised in the backgrounds that capture your eye and you don’t look away. What a spectacular eye for storytelling Ruben has.
With a dream like quality mixed and rooted in reality, through dreams and nightmares what we see and experience alongside these characters is what is so damn impressive. The natural mystique of the Suicide Forest is well known throughout the world and draws those wishing to join the dead there by droves and to base something so epically sweeping such as this and delve further into a version of the lore is truly beyond expectation.
Amigo is quietly putting out some of the most stellar stories on stands today. This series is something people should be talking about and sharing with everyone they know. It is so damn good and so just breathtaking to behold that if you aren’t reading this that would feel like some kind of injustice.