Creepy dolls, brilliant storytelling, and wasp monsters exploding out of people’s brains– Abby Howard’s new web comic, The Last Halloween has it all. I suggest you get caught up on the first couple dozen updates immediately, because this is something that everyone who reads the Midnight Society really ought to be following.
One of the things I love about The Last Halloween is that Howard has thrown the usual webcomic pacing out the window, giving readers a whole page worth of panels in one weekly update. This pacing really works for the story, allowing her time to really dwell on the gruesome deaths her monsters are inflicting on the townsfolk, and also giving her space to have a slower exposition panel without losing the reader’s attention before the next update. From a writer’s point of view, I am amazed at every update, how she puts together a single page worth of story that is both fascinating all on its own, and leaves the reader hungry for next week’s installment.
Of course, the writing is not the only thing that Howard excels at. As one of the contestants on Penny Arcade’s Strip Search, and winner of a 2013 Ghastly Award, Howard has some serious artistic skills. Unlike a lot of comic artist out there, Howard’s work is hand-drawn, with line-work that makes me both hope and fear that she has been possessed by the undead soul of Edward Gorey. I think I stared at the church panel below for several minutes, just marveling at its brilliance. Even in very simple scenes, it’s worth paying attention to what the background is doing, as it swirls around the characters, reflecting their thoughts and emotions.
Meanwhile, gore-loving horror fans will love Howard’s background in biology and paleontology, and her ability to draw creepy monsters and dismembered limbs with a seriously disturbing yuck factor. Her main character might only be ten-years-old, but this is not a story for young children, and some of the very first images are still haunting me in my dreams. I am both excited and terrified to know what other visions Howard has still in store for us as the story progresses.