Something very strange is happening in this town – The Grinning Mask #2

Published On October 21, 2011 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

The Grinning Mask Issue 2

By Ryan Taylor

Issue 2 of Ryan Taylor’s creeping horror tale builds on the promise of the first issue and beds down nicely. Issue 1 was reviewed here where I had this to say about it:

“The Grinning Mask issue 1 is the opening chapter in a horror story, told from the point of view of a young, horror comics loving boy called Jack. This first chapter does a good job of introducing Taylor’s story, showing us a little of young Jack’s life – his family, his school, his obvious obsession with the horror comics racked at the local shop”

“There are mysteries developing in The Grinning Mask as well: Jack and his mates are terrified by a figure rising from the gravestones on their nocturnal visit, but it may just be the Verger. More puzzling are Jack’s dreams of the grinning mask of the title and the cliffhanger that the priest discovers in the church the next morning. Mysteries no doubt that we’ll get to in subsequent issues.”

And that’s where we are now, with this issue delving a little into the mysterious events – the reverend discovering a wall broken through and an ancient corpse on the floor, the strange dreams Jack (and others) are having, all to do with a hideous masked something that really makes it’s presence felt during this issue.

We find out early on that the corpse in the church possibly belonged to a travelling jester called Sommers. But this isn’t your ordinary jester….

And whilst this investigation is going on, young Jack finds out from his mate that he’s not the only one having the dreams about the creepy mask.

But he can’t imagine the full horror that’s unfolding throughout this issue, as Taylor carefully intercuts his main story with a series of double-pages where we see various inhabitants coming face to face with the mask, when their everyday lives and the things that satisfy them most turn into a very deadly nightmare….

The thing is, every one of these deadly interludes has a very familiar feel to it, as if they were the pages from one of those horror comics that young Jack spends a lot of his time reading. You don’t think they could be connected….. who knows, that will be one to find out next time… (cue creepy , haunting laughter….).

Just like issue 1, this is short and sweet, in a gently, satisfyingly, horror-filled way. I’m still getting a satisfying 50s/60s feel to it, perfect for the sort of EC Comics / Hammer horror tale Taylor’s attempting. And it’s moving along really nicely, definitely worth picking up, and definitely one I’ll be intrigued to see where it ends up.

Again, a couple of issues with clunky dialogue here, especially a few times where Taylor uses characters conversing or thinking to explain away a few plot points. And yes, there’s a couple of artistic gaffs, with panels that confuse rather than guide you the right way round the pages. But there’s not too many of either, and these are easily overlooked. The art still looks great, and I enjoyed the subtle page layout and style shifts for the murderous interludes – very nicely designed to look and feel like old horror comics. A well done touch.

I’ll leave you with a non-spoilery image from the final page….

Yes, something very strange is happening. And I’ll definitely be around to find out what. And I’d like to think you might join me. Night night everyone, try not to dream of masked things….

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

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