Final Boy issue 1
Writer & Letterer: Samuel Ethan Carter, Penciler & Inker: Marlon Souza, Colourist: Danilo Leao
Horror comics seem to be super popular in the indie comics world these days. The genre is evergreen and big enough that sub genres are also well represented. Case in point, Final Boy from writer Samuel Ethan Carter, artist Marlon Souza and colourist Danilo Leao which gives us a comics version of the slasher movie. The slasher movie, like the rabbits that bounce around the forest in Final Boy, just can’t be kept down. No matter how much they are hunted, they just keep multiplying.
The book is the first part in a typical tale of teenage lust interrupted by a homicidal masked lunatic, in this case with a crossbow and spiked baseball bat. We meet our victims to be – namely Scott Mayer and Hailey Mills (makes a nice change from the Railway Children I suppose.) We have several pages of the couple talking in a car – tough to portray in an interesting way in a comic and the panels are generally quite static and weighed down with exposition and set up.
Things pick up as the couple leave the car and head for the woods. Well, we all know what is coming next as they head for a truly disgusting sounding ‘love mattress’. We encounter some of the main themes of slasher movies, that teenage lust is unclean and deserving of punishment. As Hailey says “we are gonna go to hell”. At the same time the genre is endlessly titillating. The audience is going to hell as well.
When it comes to comics influenced by other mediums like film, the key for me is how creators can use the additional and unique possibilities presented by comics. A slasher movie can use music and sound effects, it can utilise a jump scare – much more difficult to pull that off in a comic. But what you can do is use very graphic panels. A comics reader has time to pore over an individual scene in a way that a movie watcher does not. You can also have impact by using more slow burning psychological techniques in dialog and imagery.
Final Boy does better in this regard. Horrifying imagery is used effectively as our killer retrieves his arrow in a rather brutal manner. We also get to see the masked slayer reveal just how messed up he is in the closing pages. I won’t spoil this for the reader, but you might not watch Strictly Come Dancing in the same way again. I’m no horror aficionado but I showed this to my teenage son who knows the genre a lot better than me and does not give praise lightly, and his view on these closing pages was “that’s gangsta as shit”.
Artist Maron Souza gets plenty of opportunity to show dynamic movement and scenes of terrified fleeing are effectively illustrated using varying perspectives and movement lines. There is an impactful splash page featuring our triumphant slasher and a phallic baseball bat, haloed by the moon like a stained glass saint.
Colours from Danilo Leao depict the quiet moonlit woods in cool greys and purples, with occasional splashes of bloody scarlet of course.
Comics shouldn’t be an alternative to film making or a way to break into movies. If you want to do that, make a movie. There aren’t many great example of the slasher genre in comics. Can this book change that? It will be interesting to see how Final Boy develops. I look forward to meeting his ‘unlikely heroes’ and I hope it can bring a new take on the slasher flick using the medium of comics.