Larime Taylor’s Kickstarter success story is now an ongoing series. Welcome to Cutter’s Circle. We suspect you’re going to want to stay a while.
Originally Kickstarted as Dark Zoey, Larime Taylor‘s A Voice in the Dark drew the attention of such heavy hitters as Gail Simone, Michael Oeming and a stack of other creators around the Interwebs. This is for good reason, with Taylor’s new series adding to the strong line-up of storytellers coming out of Top Cow and Image this year, treading into the territory where Twin Peaks and Joss Whedon meet serial small town murder.
The extra-sized first issue out from Top Cow/Image is a compilation of the first two parts of the original run, strategically leaving readers on a cliffhanger that is sure to at least hook them back in for a second month. Taylor introduces us to Zoey, who has successfully managed to go 72 days without killing anybody. As she starts a new life at college in Cutter’s Circle, Zoey becomes the host of a late night college radio show, but with another killer running around town, she begins to wonder if she is also hosting a new playground for the sinister side of the town.
Despite giving us what is effectively two issues to begin with, Taylor gleefully withholds information from the audience, ensuring that this is a massive tease for the first major story arc of the book. After opening with Zoey’s recent killing of someone in her home town, an event dealt with in a matter of fact kind of way, the book immediately goes to some dark places, implying that she has always had murder fantasies. Yet the way this plays out in the rest of the issue channels that streak through some very inky humour, inspired by the black comedies of the 1980s including Heathers, or Terry Moore’s Stranger’s in Paradise comics. This is not simply in tone either, but in the wonderfully well-rounded cast of mostly female characters that Taylor introduces us to. Each has a distinctive personality with secrets galore, and it will be rewarding to see some of these characters unravelled as the series goes on.
The black and white art serves the theme of the book well, with Taylor’s line art drawing on inspiration from a variety of life models. This gives rise to naturalistic poses and scenes, mostly taking place in a handful of “sets” in and around the campus. Frequent violent cutaways use the format’s layout to great effect, ensuring the blood-letting maintains the cheeky nature of the issue and continues to move at a rapid pace. At other times, characters are framed within blood splatters. Taylor describes himself as a “mouth artist” on his site, and what casual readers may not know about Taylor is that he was born with Arthrogryposis, a condition that inhibited the development of his limbs in utero and left him with limited use of his arms and legs. Writing, illustrating and toning the comics entirely with his mouth and a Wacom tablet is impressive enough, but the naturalism and detail in the radio booth scenes in particular (Taylor has a background in radio) adds to the story’s authenticity.
A Voice in the Dark signals a new voice on the scene, one with a clear concept and a firm notion of what makes a rich story with a decent hook. While readers may certainly notice some nods not only to the aforementioned 80’s influences, but also more recent fare such as TV’s Dexter, Taylor’s strong cast of characters distinguishes this. It’s early days yet, and we’ve only seen the initial incisions into Cutter’s Circle. We’re looking forward to taking a deeper slice in the months to come.
A Voice in the Dark is released on 20 November 2013 from Top Cow/Image Comics.
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