Noble and Azzopardi – all about the Dark Matters

Published On April 12, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Dark Matters

By Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble

Okay, we previewed this a while ago, but here’s what you should know about Dark Matters:

It’s got three stories in from Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble, two previously published in comic form, one specially created for this collections.

Both men are very talented writer/artists and when they’ve come together in the past with 2011’s Built Of Blood And Bricks, and the 2010 edition of Sightings Of Wallace Sendek the results have been magfnificent. Sightings made it to the 2010 best of list, Built Of Blood And Bricks was so close to it in 2011.

To be honest, if this were simply a way to get hold of those comics in a lovely format, I’d still say go for it. But this is much better. First we have 10 extra pages in The Sightings Of Wallace Sendek, 10 completely new sightings, all adding to the mystery and intrigue of the original story no doubt, there’s also new spot illos throughout the book. But the main reason for getting Dark Matters is for the third, completely new tale Pirouette. More on that later, but first a little on the previously published works from the previously published reviews….

The Sightings Of Wallace Sendek (2010):

“I can’t really say enough good things about Wallace Sendek. It’s quite brilliant. I’m a huge fan of Noble’s work anyway and I’ve always liked Azzopardi’s artwork. But in Sendek we see Noble on his vaguest, strangest, darkest form and Azzopardi drawing his arm off to keep up with the strange, surreal storyline, matching each new voice on the page with some new, different styling.”

“The whole comic’s just one huge unresolved mystery, where you can take whatever reading of it you desire; has Sendek deliberately vanished? Is he dead? A ghostly presence haunting the world? Are the sightings simply some form of mysterious mass hysteria? Or could there be a far more sinister explanation for it all? I don’t know. Something I always seem to find myself saying when it comes to anything involving Douglas Noble. But like every time before, it doesn’t matter, not one bit, since Noble creates so much suspense and intrigue in his comics that the conclusion isn’t the point, isn’t the best thing about them. Wallace Sendek, just like Complex, just like Live Static, is all about the mystery. The fun’s in experiencing it, not solving it. But should you wish to try and pull the mystery apart, you’ll find a discrepancy in there, all tied into the failings of the reported word, something I suspect Noble deliberately planted in there to keep eagle-eyed readers on their toes.”

(Sightings Of Wallace Sendek by Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble)

Built Of Blood And Bricks (2011):

“And then together, Noble and Azzopardi seem to just gel. Built Of Blood And Bricks is a near perfect atmospheric piece of suburban horror, although there’s really not that much horror explicit in it, not when you really think about what you’ve just read. So much of the perceived horror comes from Azzopardi’s art, and specifically that chilling, nightmarish face.

And as you read through, the imagery works it’s way into you, and Noble’s atmospheric dialogue evokes a horror, a darkness, the deeper meanings you read into the narrator’s words, the pieces of the puzzle – everything just fits perfectly. Noble’s words build and build into something truly chilling, as the symbiosis of words and imagery takes root in your mind and you start looking for the meaning, for the horror that’s never explicitly expressed.”

(Built Of Blood And Bricks by Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble)

I haven’t seen the finished book yet, but I’m looking forward to having both stories together, so interested to see what the new pages for Wallace Sendek add to the story, what new mysteries they bring forth. But what really excites me is Pirouette, the new story in this new book collection. Noble sent over a preview digital copy and just as with all of Noble’s work, part of me couldn’t wait, and part of me was just that little bit scared by it. There’s always a part of me wonders if I got it or not to be honest (just like with the most recent, and very late review of Complex #6)…. he really does sit on that very fine line between genius and madness so very often.

But here goes….

Pirouette

By Douglas Noble and Sean Azzopardi

“The prodigal son returns home for his father’s funeral, only to find himself confronting old memories hidden in familiar places.”

Well, here they go again, Noble and Azzopardi creating another comic to torture and confuse me. Or perhaps not, could it be that this really is a simple, straightforward mood piece, an evocation of grief, death, lives remembered, memories shifting with a new post death reality?

If it is, then it’s simple and uncommonly straightforward for a Noble/Azzopardi piece, but within that simplicity is a marvellously atmospheric piece, a grief laden story of a man’s return for his father’s funeral, replete with all the emotional baggage that entails.

We get a snapshot of the family, then work backwards through the son’s memories as we meet and greet the guests. Story and art combine to build atmosphere, suitably dark, as memories float around, each guest with their own version of the truth, their own memories of the dead, each one different, alien to the memories the son holds of not so dear old dad. There’s no hidden subtext here, just memories, memories and death, this is all about the manner in which people twist and turn their characters as they touch other people’s lives.

This is confident, attractive comic work. I’m never wholly sure who does what when the pair work together but here I think it’s Noble providing the lion’s share of the art; typically dense, dark, claustrophobic stuff, perfect at portraying the funereal mood. Occasional Azzopardi panels highlight the architectural delights of the church. All in all it’s lovely to look at, mood captured so well, art and story all forming a great little mood piece.

Pirouette sits alongside Sightings Of Wallace Sendek and Built Of Blood And Bricks as a complimentary piece, a minor piece compared with those two works perhaps, but here, as part of a very, very dark collection, Pirouette fits so well.

Dark Matters is available from either gentleman’s webstore: (Azzopardi’s store, Noble’s store).

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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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