Striking a perfect balance between cute and macabre, ‘Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees’ is a resounding creative triumph for IDW Originals.
It’s that time of the year when we begin feeling that fall breeze creep in. I walk around my neighborhood taking in the crisp morning air, say hi to the same neighbors, and let my thoughts wander. Usually around this time, they land on what I’ll be watching and reading for the Halloween season. Something is calming about those few laps around the area you live in, the familiar faces, that you never really stop to wonder what you would do if that familiarity were to be challenged. Because doing that would open a door to a type of dread that is usually better left uninvited inside. Luckily for us, we get to wander down that road in IDW Publishing’s new series Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Written, illustrated, and colored by Patrick Horvath with Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou on letters, Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees features a cast of cutely drawn anthropomorphic characters going about their daily lives in the small town of Woodbrook. Woodbrook is a quaint little town that could easily be home to Frog and Toad of the Arnold Lobel penned series. Its quiet nature and humble inhabitants, who all seem to know each other perfectly well, make it the type of place a serial killer could build up a front to mask their bloodlust.
That is what Samantha Strong has realized over the years of living there. She has one rule though: don’t kill the locals. Samantha, a cute brown bear, has managed to live a life without raising any suspicion from her animal folk neighbors, and following a day in her life before we see her draw first blood is why this twistedly appealing hook works so well.
Samantha’s effort to leave Woodbrook’s pleasant state uninterrupted takes her to the big city in search of victims. The fact that she can so easily drive out, find a target, and commit these crimes brings on the existential dread of our everyday mundanity and the horror of evil’s ability to hide in plain sight…but in a good way that gets you amped up for the spooky season to come!
Who knew horror could be so…cozy.
Horvath’s idyllic art style masterfully allays any initial fears or suspicion that something could ever go wrong in Woodbrook. So when it does, it hits that much harder. The soft lines and cozy watercolor palette throughout deliver a level of comfort and a lived-in quality that serve to oppose the full-on gore in the book’s pages. Horvath draws those scenes a little too well which makes them incredibly effective. His writing, coupled with the part of me that grew up on shows like Arthur, allowed for quick feelings of familiarity with these new characters. When a grisly murder, not spearheaded by Sam, is brought to their town’s doorstep, I couldn’t help but want them to be okay.
Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees features sweet and sickly page turns so good which will have readers savouring every moment.
Sam’s quiet demeanor and homicidal tendencies make for a great look into the psyche of a psychopath and discovering her and the town’s methods of dealing with the newfound conflict of a (second) murderer in Woodbrook is sure to keep the story interesting. With its exceptional balance of the delightful and twisted; Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees quickly becomes a series you’ll want to keep in your arsenal of horror reads. The release date of October 18th is rapidly approaching, so make sure to let your comic jockeys know to save you a copy.
FOC for Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees #1 is Monday September 11. The Diamond ordering code (Cover A) is AUG231293. (Cover B) is AUG231294.
Editor’s note: So you’re a fan of IDW Originals series? Then check out @morgan-simmons review of The Hunger and the Dusk #2.