Thee Comic Column #75: Larime Taylor’s A Voice in the Dark

image courtesy of bloody disgusting.com

Have you ever had an experience that completely humbled you? Probably. We all get them from time to time, the dividing line being between those who pay attention to these occurrences and try to integrate them into their lives as a source of betterment, and those who simply shirk them off, preferring to leave their lives unchanged. I for one try to pay attention, and I will tell you now that earlier today when I set out to do a little research for this week’s column I had one of those experiences, quite unexpectedly. Here all I set out to do was tell you about a new comic called A Voice in the Dark that I am absolutely CRAZY about when I encountered the story of a man that inspired me in ways I cannot even begin to describe. The man’s name is Larime Taylor and he is the creator/writer/artist/letterer of A Voice in The Dark.

If you go here to Mr. Taylor’s Tumblr and read you will learn, as I did, that Larime Taylor was born with Arthrogryposis, a congenital disease that has left him with little use of his arms and legs. Yes, that is correct, that means that Mr. Taylor writes and draws A Voice in the Dark with his mouth. He does this on a Wacom Cintiq tablet which, as Mr. Taylor points out on his website LarimeTaylor.com, was generously provided by Wacom.

Now, lest you think that this is entirely a human interest story – and of course there’d be nothing wrong with that – I assure you that first and foremost the impetus for this week’s column was that I absolutely love A Voice in the Dark.

A Voice in the Dark follows recent high school graduate Zoey Aarons. Zoey is preparing to go away to college, however it’s not just an education she seeks in leaving home, it’s a fresh start and some distance from the town where she murdered a girl for socially harming her best friend/sister Seven. The murder awakened something in Zoey, and now she is literally counting the days since her kill, fighting the appetite she’s discovered within herself, hoping the move to a new place will stave off these dark desires.

I knew nothing about A Voice in the Dark #1 when I picked it up. The cover image (shown above) and the B&W art reminiscent of The Waiting Place and Teenagers from Mars was what sold me, along with the cover blurb from Rachel Rising/Strangers in Paradise creator Terry Moore that compared the book to a cross between Dexter and Strangers in Paradise. This is a very good comparison because while A Voice in the Dark feels very much its own thing, there are definite parallels to made to this other material. Especially SiP, as while at times A Voice in the Dark is a fascinating internal exploration of Zoey’s fracturing psyche, like SiP it is actually, for the most part, a very social book. And Mr. Taylor’s style of dialogue and art, which have that wonderfully symbiotic feel that can only occur when the author is also the artist, is crisp and practical as he introduces us to Zoey and her supporting cast: Seven, their parents and uncle Zeke, a homicide detective in Cutter’s Circle, the town Zoey moves to in issue #1 in order to attend college. In all of these interactions and relationships there is an open, beautifully realistic tone which then also increasingly envelops Zoey’s interactions with her peers at school. In fact, through a masterful plotting device it is Zoey’s need to try to relate to her peers on a broad scale that draws our anti-hero’s conflict out of those internal spaces and sees it beautifully projected into an anonymous call-in radio show she starts as a safe place for students with problems to vent and look for guidance. And of course, chief among those looking for guidance is Zoey, who desperately hopes that the show might be a bloodless way for her to exorcise her increasingly demanding desire to kill again.

But Cutter’s Circle has some surprises in store for Zoey.

image courtesy of geekquality.com

I cannot say enough good things about this book. A Voice in the Dark is a quality independent comic that began with a successful kickstarter campaign and led to what all those creator’s who use the crowd sourcing paradigm hope for – big time distribution. Top Cow/Image Comics picked up A Voice in the Dark, published the first two issues and now the book is up to issue #4. HOWEVER, as we’ve already seen with Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising, B&W, independent books are not an easy sell in today’s hyper-Hollywood-hero market. It deeply saddened me to find that a book that had been selling out at my local shop, The Comic Bug,  was actually fighting for every copy ordered by stores. You can read Larime Taylor’s determined message about it here but the long and the short of it is this is another book that comic fans need to support, because it is books such as these that represent the purest expression of the medium’s potential and without independent creators like Mr. Taylor and Terry Moore, we would be left with nothing but capes-n-tights. And while I’ll be the first to champion how far the hero press has come in terms of quality storytelling, that is definitely NOT all I want out of comics every month. There is a very wide spectrum to the experiences available to us in life everyday, and it’s often on the independent side of comics that we find some of the most lovely stories told about those fringe experiences that make the world a brighter – or in this case way darker – place to live.

Also, check out Mr. Taylor’s webpage’s shop, as he offers some killer exclusives there for a good price – money that goes directly to helping a man with a disability who also happens to be a phenomenal creator offset the cost of doing what he loves for a living, a living that also happens to be one of the only options available to him.

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Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

 

 

 

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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