AWA Upshot Studios 2020
Written by John Lees
Illustrated by Dalibor Talajić
Coloured by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
You won't find it on any map, but if you happen to be driving down Route 66 in the dead of night and you're truly desperate for shelter, sanctuary or secrecy, you might see a battered sign on the side of the road. The Pierrot Courts Hotel – where the tormented make their last stand with the demons that haunt them...where many check in, but few check out. In this haunting conclusion, these demons take literal form.
This is the weirdest and craziest, most mind chilling book out on stands. I mean this issue was absolutely crazy in the content and how things played out and certain arcs met up and made the whole individual stories come together. Also massive kudos to John for the misdirection with what was happening to get into this issue’s main arc, I really thought that the whole situation was something else entirely and I am thrilled that John is able to do that to me. This is why John is one of today's rising stars in the industry, he’s able to really deliver solid storytelling that is unpredictable and entertaining.
The way that this is being told is genius! The story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information keeps everything moving forward beautifully. Also this makes me wish that the Manager of the Pierrot Court is someone whom we will see again. He is the new Cain (House of Mystery infamy) and needs to be recognised as such. The character development is sensational and though we only have a short time with the characters it is still easy to see their personalities emerge and stay with you. The pacing we see is phenomenal and as it takes us through the pages revealing the twists and turns along the way we see how well the book is structured and how everything works together to create the story’s ebb & flow.
Nowadays every genre seems to be heavily on display so it takes a special kind of something to stand out from the crowd. This manages to do just that and it does it with this aplomb that captivates readers’ as it engages their minds and imagination in some truly mystifying ways.
I am a huge fan of Dalibor’s work. The linework here is fantastic and as we see the varying weights being utilised to really make the attention to detail is stunning! I am also wildly impressed with the different styles we see, that artwork hanging behind the desk compared to the rest is a great example of what I am referring to, so that we are really kept on our toes. Because of the nature of the story I’m okay with the limited or semi-utilised backgrounds here. The tone, mood, feel or ambiance that is created is spectacular as well as seeing depth perception, a sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show such a strong and talented eye for storytelling. The colour work we see is gorgeous! That we see all the various hues and tones within any given colour being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is beautifully rendered. Also I really like that the daylight or darkness keeps the colour schemes in the same vein but more vibrant or muted.
If you haven’t been paying attention to AWA Upshot Studios or to John Lees then you really need to broaden your horizons and take a walk into some of the most interesting, intriguing and incredibly well done work hitting stands.