I have been in a bit of a darker mood lately so chose to read Emily Caroll’s Through the Woods. Being in this dark story mood, I recently picked up Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and am considering diving back in to Gillian Flynn so Through the Wolves was exactly what I needed. The collection of stories within this graphic novel put the reader through a string of horrors accompanied by twisted imagery. I really liked that there were a variety of stories which were just slightly linked together. I have found that with a lot of graphic novels I get bored much faster with characters than I do with novels. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m used to short comic strips and books which don’t take up too much of my time. But I loved this novel. It was more art than text and the art was absolutely stunning.
The graphics in this collection are what drew my eye. This is odd for me as I typically find myself reading the text of graphic novels and realizing three pages in that I forgot to look at half the pictures (which kind of defeats the purpose – I know). The images were spooky without being grotesque; they managed to hold onto their beauty in a world of horror. I think what most attracts me to them is their simplicity. Caroll’s lines are not always perfect and she does not always include a lot of detail which is perfect for what she aims to achieve. She also uses only a handful of colors which adds to the horror quality of her work. I think it is this simplicity which allows Caroll to weave her text into her images without making them two separate entities. My favorite panels were those from “His Face All Red” when the monster is waiting outside of the child’s window. I think I was attracted to this because it reflected my own fears when laying alone at night with my shades open. My brain constantly reminds me that anything could be outside watching and waiting. Here again her simplicity comes into play for me. We don’t need to be told that they are afraid their face says it all. Then in the next panel, rather than drawing out the wolf fuly, we are given only its eyes and teeth. Carrol allows her readers to fill in the rest with their own imagination. She knows that readers don’t need any more to conjure up their fears.