“The next morning, the toymaker awoke to a a ghastly surprise ...” - Candiloro
In the mythical town of Il Doppio a Toymaker creates wondrous toys for the local children to enjoy. But the Toymaker's best creation is her much loved daughter. While this might sound all love and Disney mush, a darkness enters the Toymaker's world and takes the life of her daughter.
Distraught the Toymaker has no outlet for her grief beyond creating a special doll and casting a spell on it to animate the toy. Fearing a supernatural force might be inhabiting the doll the Toymaker seeks advice and tries a whole bunch of rituals, to finally discover no spirit is at fault for the suddenly talkative Barbie knock off. The Toymaker's troubles are only just beginning, lets see where they might lead us.
While a whole bunch of dark genre outings use traditional faery tales as a basis for their plots, it's surprisingly pretty seldom that you run across the idea of a faery tale being used for something completely new and unique. About the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves (1984), and even there Jordan is relying on existing faery tales mixed with lycanthrope tropes to make a point. Hence my pleasure at opening up Frank Candiloro's new comic 2WO to discover Candiloro has stripped the bride bare, and gone with a completely new faery tale to spin his yarn on. And if you don't think faery tales work as horror outings, then check out the Brothers Grimm, those dudes were hitting the gore like it was going out of favour with the Parisian Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol mob.
Frank Candiloro's script might contain faery tale overtures, it's set in that almost Gothic style environment of evil Stepmothers and nefariously inclined Dwarfs, but Candiloro is far more interested in dark genre paths than one might expect given the structure of the comic. We all go a little mad sometimes, and the Author here indicates that letting the Roos loose in the top paddock might simply be an intruder away. Yes I'm using a Psycho reference there, but that's not the tale Candiloro is telling. There's a heck of a lot of rooms in manse horror, and Frank Candiloro is spending the night in one on the second floor. Actually thinking about it, and that's not something we prize highly at ScaryMinds, the script ventures into the tragedy end of horror-ville. So yeah, we're talking a tragic horror story set in a faery tale countryside, that should bring a smile to the face of even the most cynical of dark journeyers. Just think, if Tim Burton made comic books then this is the sort of comic book Burton would be doing.
Overall then I would stake my reputation, what little remains, on most readers enjoying the script. It's all wine and roses, chaos enters the frame, then it simply goes dark real quickly. Simple recipe for an outstanding romp down some of the dark genre's darker psychological back roads. Candiloro is deliciously devious with 2WO, it ain't over till the fat demented lady screams yo.
If you have caught up with any other Frank Candiloro releases then you will instantly recognise the art style in use, a sort of German expressionism wrapped in a waking nightmare for the unitiated, it's all geometric and electric and completely insane. There's a surreal feel to things that definitely reminds of Tim Burton at his left field best, but which reaches into it's own unique heritage of Candiloro aesthetics, (whatever the hell that means). The artwork is stark, it's confronting, and totally in keeping with the subject matter. I'm picking up clear influences from Candiloro's previous work The Testament of Doktor Zeitpunkt, Candiloro is getting his German expressionist game on.
Without giving too much away, well okay without spelling things out in twelve foot high neon lettering, one of the highlights of Frank Candiloro the artist in 2WO is his handling of the internal conflict his central characters goes through as things fracture. Very effective, yet subtle enough to not drift into triteness. I was grooving to Candiloro's beat with this aspect, two thumbs up.
2WO comes at us in U.S comic book format, weighs in at an easily digestible 26 pages of mayhem, and confronts in black and white with grey shading. Actually when I say “easily digestible” that should read, a couple of rounds with the comic will get you where the plot is going.
I had good times with 2WO and have no issues recommending the comic to those who like their dark genre on the psychological end of the street. Groove to the faery tale aspects, get down with the madness, and have yourself a good time. You can thank me later.
To get your hands on the comic, check out Frank Candiloro's official site. At $3 it's pretty much being given away kids, so form an orderly queue and don't embarrass us. Alternatively if you are lucky enough to hang in a City with a half decent comic emporium wander in, slap your money on the counter, and demand a copy.