I am a big fan of Emily Carroll's comics. On second thought, I am a very, very big fan of Emily Carroll's comics. So the release of a new Carroll webcomic only two days before Christmas feels like a present arriving early.
Her 2014 collection of horror stories Through the Woods ranked high on the ComicBook.Com Best Comics of 2014 list and for good reason. Carroll's work, both in print and on the web, is some of the best being created today. Even with stiff competition like Wytches and Locke & Key, I think her comics are the scariest that I have read in years. They capture the timeless quality of old world fairy tales and infuse them with a amorphous, intensely personal fears. Each tale is broad enough to invite readers to project themselves into the story and experience the horrors within through the lens of their own experience. They're also imaginative and inventive in their design. Comics like "Margot's Room" tell stories in a manner only possible in a webcomic. The scares themselves don't rely on gratuitous gore or cheap jumps, but ideas that often lie just out of sight. The scariest parts of Carroll's comics, the ones that keep you up at night, are oftentimes those just barely glimpsed or left unseen.
Carroll's newest comic "All Along the Wall" is set during Christmas and has been released just in time for the actual holiday. In it two women reunite at a festive party and their daughters meet for the first time upstairs. The younger of the two girls asks the older to tell her a story, "one with lots of blood! Or maybe a murderer, or sounds coming up from the cellar." From there things begin to get... creepy.
Carroll takes advantage of the web browser format to tell her story. It is sectioned into three distinct parts with a changing color scheme and style relying on a left click to move forward or backward. She also paces the story through the use of long pages, forcing readers to scroll downward into the unknown. Although the story would look beautiful on printed pages, it's hard to imagine one or two moments having the same effect outside of this format. In addition to the comic's design, Carroll's draftsmanship is impeccable. Her heavy use of blacks in combination with sharp, vein-like, lines makes even a Christmas tree appear menacing. The overall effect of the comic is startling and will make you wish for more Christmas-themed horror stories.
You can read the complete comic here.
Once you've checked that none of your cousins fell down a well this year and have double checked the doors are locked, it's worth exploring the rest of Carroll's work as well. Much of it can be found for free on her website here. That non-existent price tag is insane considering both the incredible craftsmanship of these comics and the innovation taking place within the digital format. They are a real delight at any time of the year, but feels especially like a gift now.
Enjoy and remember to be careful what you ask for this Christmas... you might just get it.