BEAUTIFUL HORROR: EMILY CARROLL’S ‘THROUGH THE WOODS’ IS A COMICS MASTERWORK
By Sarah Horrocks
Emily Carroll’s collection of horror comics, Through the Woods, operates largely on the alienation of the inexplicable experience. More specifically, with one exception, it explores that alienation in women, particularly young women. The struggle for many of these characters is the insidious horror of trauma, and all of the ways that trauma pulls you apart, both from yourself and your community, and leaves you susceptible to further terrors.
This trauma that suddenly makes you unreliable to the world around you, and indeed unreliable to yourself, provides much of the claustrophobia that characterizes the slowly closing trap of Carroll’s flashlight-whispered tales. These are spellbound stories through which every strength of the comics medium is put into employ. There are frankly very few writers in comics who can go toe-to-toe with Emily Carroll in this regard. The totality of these comics is a testament to the largely untapped potentials inherent in this medium.
One of the aspects of the whole that powers Through The Woods is its lettering. Carroll’s lettering has a handwritten character of its own, and oftentimes the twisting bending nature of the letters and words drive the composition of the pages as a whole, which allows Carroll to move effortlessly through sometimes complex layered montage pages.
The pages are simple. The panels are complex. Love it. Reminds of Craig Thompson, very good thing.