Written by Patrick Scattergood
Dark Ponds Logo art by Ashley Scattergood
Artists Dan Charnley & Lee Taylor
Cover art by Dan Charnley & Ashley Scattergood
Additional art Carlos Moreno
Released under Dark Pond Creations
Flesh Tones is a short horror compendium by writer Patrick Scattergood. With just two stories in under 30 pages it is a light read… er, well a short read. Though not especially gruesome or graphic, it is a dark read (it is horror after all).
This is truly indie with the overall flow of the comic and the level of quality in the finished product of each story taking a huge leap. As a split comic following two separate stories the final editing of the comic has been clever to put the weaker of the two first.
Now, I mean no offence by this, but I prefer brutal honesty and The Mansion looks unfinished. It feels like it needs something, though the artwork has a quaint rough style and in some scenes it really does bring the rot and raggedness of the zombies to life. I feel looking at this that the artist Lee Taylor has some talent, but not yet the experience or perhaps skill in capturing the action and drama required in a comic.
This particular piece cried out to be inked and given some real oomph, to have a more thought out panel layout, angles, perspectives and overall finish. There is little definition between foreground and background in line quality and so it lacks depth. The lettering (which successfully follows the handwritten letter style) is passable, but there is no background lettering to define sounds. The story itself is a fine enough concept and the narrative delivered well but this is a story where the writer has left a lot of the storytelling to the artist to convey, and this artist seems to me to be better suited to single image illustrations that accompany a novel rather than comic art. Some of Taylor’s work in this is quite beautiful stand alone.
It should have been their job to have us drawn into the plight of this young couple on their anniversary suddenly facing Zombies. To have us on the edge of our seats with the panic they feel, to capture the horror and the desperation. Though the drawings are not bad… they did none of this for me and I feel that having left the art for this one to the artist of the second story or someone of a similar skill level would have really set it apart.
If The Mansion had been the second story, it would have had a hard act to follow with Real Horror. It is a fantastically stylish piece and captures a tormented and wicked atmosphere. Final page layout and panel images are on an entirely different level to the first piece. It is dark, and menacing. If I am not mistaken it is a beautiful mix of digital drawing free hand, and working over photographs. Nicely textured and presented clearly for such a murky art style this feels more experienced. This feels passionate. It is unfair to compare the two pieces in style as with art everyone has their own tastes, but for me Charnley has a depth that Taylor is currently missing.
As for the story, such a simple little piece of observational storytelling.
Complimented well by the art and told in first person by an initially unseen being, you would unlikely be able to pick out the two tales as being written by the same person. Scattergood is an eloquent writer and I would like to see some longer stories from him, especially if they are as well matched to an art style as Real Horror is.
I am keen to see how Flesh Tones #2 develops, it should be with us soon.
Copies of Flesh Tones #1 can be found here: