Join hands for the Seance Room
The Source Point Press comic Seance Room: The Seed Of Change is here to rattle your cage.
I'm equally pleased to talk about what both this book is and what this book is not. It is horror. It is not bloody or gory. There are no zombies or ax-wielding maniacs. And that's one of the strengths of the package. "The comic book is pushing buttons and I want it to." writer Ben Goldsmith told the Super Hero Speak podcast back in May. "I want people to feel hurt by it."
Before anyone can feel hurt by it, they must first feel awed by this thing when they lay their eyes across the ridiculously beautiful illustration work of Brooklyn-based artist Keyla Valerio. There's so much living and gloriously dreamlike movement humming off each of Valerio's pages. It's not that the scenes are just beautiful (which they are) or that they just perfectly convey the story (which they do), but moreover it's that Valerio pulls you in so completely that you can almost... strangely hear the thing. I found her art to be frighteningly, inescapably, musical.
When the art is this good, and it's still not the number one reason to buy this book, you know that there's something to talk about here. Like, in a communial way. Ben Goldsmith's storytelling has the hook to ignite conversations for unpleasant topics.
Justin Birch, the letterer on Seance Room, put it this way, "I usually read the story as I’m lettering it. This is one of the few stories I read the script ahead of lettering because I was obsessed with the moral questions it was asking. It caused a lot of thought-provoking conversations between my friends and I." Birch continued "I loved proposing the question and getting both sides of the argument from everyone. Side note- It probably was not the best idea to discuss it over pancakes at Bob Evans after local church services had let out."
"It's what true horror is." Goldsmith told Super Hero Speak. "It's not jump scares, it's being told that you have cancer."
And he's right. Goldsmith keeps you twisting and turning in a nightmare always clear about how you've arrived but never giving you the footing needed to reach equilibrium. All this is achieved within the confines of an extremely straightforward story. And did I mention that this is his first comic book?
Since horror is not the mainstream, when new creators want to dip into the genre it's often a one-off splurge to scratch the nostalgic itch of a fond memory they once associated with a particular series such as Tales From The Crypt. When this is the case you can expect a tiny twist on the original concept but nothing that would make the vehicle less recognizable from the source material. Often it's even the intention to make the new book indistinguishable from what they're emulating. Goldsmith, Valerio and Birch have bucked this trend with Seance Room in the most successful way possible.
As if all this wasn't impressive enough, the sly official website for their creation is admirably restrained in it's subtlety. It's a terrific idea and a wink to the audience moreso than a traditional marketing gimmick.
Goldsmith isn't concerned for reader's sensitivities. "If you're offended by something, then isn't that more on you?" he posited to Super Hero Speak. "If you're upset by something that I write, take it up with your fucking self first."
Valerio's painstaking artwork takes months to complete but the team is projecting a first volley of four issues with a followup of the same number being the goal. Goldsmith explained to me, "The Seance Room is a place beyond the rules of man but not the rules of reason." He went on, "The comic book the Seance Room exists to bring catharsis to the underserved and punishment to the corrupt. Stunning art and complete stories in each issue will bring you back time and time again after the door to the Seance Room has been shut. "