Well then. This is rather brilliant. The Absence has had a review on cult website Aintitcool!
THE ABSENCE #1
Writer: Martin Stiff
Illustrator: Martin Stiff
Publisher: Self Published via LuLu
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
THE ABSENCE is a six-part miniseries starting with issue number one, HERO, starring Marwood Clay as a soldier returning to a small village on the coastal edge of Southern England. The only problem is Clay was presumed dead, killed in World War II. Further complicating matters is the fact that the townsfolk were kinda glad he was offed and are less than enthused to see him return home. Unfortunately not all of him has made it, as ol’ Marwood lost the lower part of his mouth below the nose. He sort of resembles that anatomy mannequin in the high school nurses office but his disfigurement runs much, much deeper.
I have to give props to Martin Stiff for serving as both writer and illustrator, as just one of those duties is a daunting task on any book but to do both, and to do them well, is truly the mark of a great talent. I was a little disappointed the comic was in black and white, as I feel like I’m reading a newspaper, but that’s just me nitpicking because THE ABSENCE leaves very little to be critical of. The narrative is sharp, the pacing is just right and Stiff has a loose hand when it comes to the illustrations. I like the way he’s able to capture fear and anxiety right out of the gate which is a considerable feat considering that you really don’t know who any of the characters are and have no established reason for giving a shit about what happens to them. Stiff makes the most of his atmosphere and shadows to draw the reader into a brilliant opening sequence that involves the collapse of one man’s world. Good stuff.
Some of the dialog is hokey but that has more to do with the geography of Stiff’s setting than his execution. In fact, I think it lends credibility to the story because if it’s taking place in Southern England than dammit it should look, sound and feel like Southern England. One thing that drives me batty is when comics have aliens, monsters and mutants all duking it out on the streets of San Francisco yet they all talk like socialites from the upper west side of Manhattan. As far as THE ABSENCE is concerned, we don’t yet understand the significance of Marwood’s return or what scars he shares with the townspeople, but Stiff has done an excellent job of giving me a reason to stick around and find out. And if you’re just in it for the cheap thrills you’ll be happy to know there are abandoned churches, Germans with hypodermic needles and gratuitous beer shots. Dark, creepy and utterly satisfying, THE ABSENCE is a self-published comic that not only meets, but in many cases exceeds what you’d expect to find from any of the big name printers. Pasty likes.
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