Best Of British: ‘Blood Moon’ – The Folk Horror Nightmares Ripping A Family Apart Reviewed
by Richard Bruton
We already told you a little of PM Buchan and John Pearson‘s Blood Moon, a very modern English folk-horror set in Cornwall, and pointed you in the direction of the Blood Moon site where issues 1 & 2 are free to read. But, in case you didn’t bite then, time for a more in-depth look at the comic…it’s well worth your time…
It’s a simple set up for the comic – the classic revenge plot with an added folk-horror twist, but it’s another comic that delivers in the details and the tone rather than through any huge twists and turns in the plot.
Everything begins with one family’s time at a Cornish music festival in Cornwall, only for tragedy to strike when a car full of drunken teens careers through the festival, killing the son and putting the wife into a coma.
From that tragedy, Buchan and Pearson spin out a tale of witchcraft and revenge, rooted in the Cornish landscape, somewhere perfectly suited to a folk-horror tale, this place of ancient culture that’s always felt itself to be somewhat separate from the rest of Britain. And tossed into the mix, albeit only touched on here in these first 50 pages, we have a political conspiracy tied to the EU Referendum with all its nasty overtones of men in power talking over taking back Cornwall for the Cornish.
All Ex-Christian punk singer Owen wanted when he walked away from the band (or, as his wife puts it, ‘that happy clappy bullshit‘) was to make things work with his Wiccan wife Maura and their two kids, Anna and Harley. As yet, there’s no idea here of just how and why a popular and successful Christian punk managed to be with a Wiccan long enough to have two kids, but perhaps we’ll get to that as the series goes on.
All we know here is that his faith has gone and he’s disappeared from the public eye, tentatively starting gigging again at this little festival in his new home of Cornwall. And, in just the couple of early pages, there’s just a hint he might be turning things around – a good gig, a smile and a kiss, two happy kids.
And then all of it goes wrong. One moment, that’s all it takes. The happiness is gone, his son is dead, his wife’s in a coma – his world ripped apart.
Now, seeing as you know from the off that this one’s a folk horror tale, it really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to you when things go dark here. And it does get very dark.
Owen seeks help from the Wiccans his wife knows and gets that assistance from another victim of those in power, her desire for vengence overwhelming Owen, pushing him further than he would ever imagine he could go. And, by the end of the second issue, he’s too far into all this to back out now, on a murderous, bloody, violent path that has and will transform him, physically, emotionally, psychologically.
The kids in the car are dumb kids cosseted by privilege, drunk, drugged, stupid and far too spoilt, entitled, and monied. Crucially, one of the kids in the car is the son of that politician we mentioned. Powerful, connected, with the police and the establishment in his pocket. Making something like this go away is second nature to this sort of man, something he simply won’t and can’t allow to get in the way of the dark plans we hear mention of, far darker than simply leaving the EU.
How things will all come together, bringing Owen’s path of revenge into conflict with those in power is, no doubt, something that Buchan and Pearson will address further into the tale, along with Owen having to come to terms with just what he’s become.
But the things that happen, as with so many excellent comics, are not the thing to concentrate on with Blood Moon. Instead, it’s the mood of this particular horror that impresses so much, all captured by John Pearson’s art, art that takes in so many different styles, often within just a single page.
From seemingly sparse linework to fully painted nightmares and everything in between, there’s a melding of traditional drawing with extensive digital work that shouldn’t work so well, but it does. What I mean by that is that because there’s so many different styles, it could, in the hands of a lesser artist, end up as a mess of artistic styles.
However, with Blood Moon, Pearson’s art is carefully constructed and assembled, shaping the entire comic, at times creating a smooth transition from style to style across the page, at times using that shift in style to make the transition a violent one, deliberately jarring, just to hit the reader even harder with the horrors we’re being shown.
With Blood Moon, I can see the next issues dealing with Owen’s transformation (physically and mentally) from, the kids running scared (and they damn well should, given what happens), the politician and those in power getting involved. But there’s also the emotional fallout from Owen’s actions at the end of issue two, his guilt and the betrayal of his ideals and vows, how it impacts his beliefs, his relationships.
I have absolute confidence that Buchan and Pearson will deliver something quite wonderful, a fantastical, folk-horror twist on the old revenge story.
But the revenge tale here is merely the beginning, the folk-horror elements are merely the occult trappings to wrap the tale in. What’s really going to prove eminently readable is watching how events spiralling out of control and his own choices will impact up one grieving father and husband.
And no, I can’t see it ending well for anyone involved.
But for the reader, based on these explosive and fascinating first couple of issues, I can tell you it’s going to be a series that’s definitely worth reading.
And, of course, it’s as easy as it can be for you to get started, with issues 1 and 2 of Blood Moon free online at http://bloodmooncomic.com. You should also check out Pearson’s Patreon, where subscribers get first looks at future issues and more. Similarly, Buchan is chronicling the process of putting it all together through his newsletter at http://pmbuchan.substack.com.
Blood Moon Issue #1 & #2 – written by PM Buchan, art by John Pearson, letters by Aditya Bidikar, edited by Hannah Means-Shannon.