In the last few weeks, DC Comics’ horror imprint under DC Black Label, Hill House Comics has delivered some beautifully creepy stories. Now it’s time for the newest series, The Low, Low Woods written by Carmen Maria Machado, with art from Dani, colors from Tamra Bonvillain, and letters from Steve Wands. In The Low Low Woods #1, Shudder-To-Think, Pennsylvania, has been on fire for years. The coal mines beneath it are long since abandoned after making the people of Shudder-To-Think-Sick, miners and townspeople alike.
While the town is its own character, El and Octavia are the focus. After the two wake up in a movie theater with no memory of the last few hours of their lives, El knows that something is wrong. Focused on finding out the reason in this weird town, Octavia urges her to drop the issue, until they realize there’s something very wrong going on. The Low Low Woods #1 is at Shudder-To-Think through El’s eyes. We experience everything through her narration. We learn the town’s history, we see the unusual, and on the last page, the foreboding nature of Machado’s story comes to ahead.
Featuring two queer women of color as the leads in this story, Machado paints a story of their friendship, El’s crush, and Octavia’s relationship. It’s tender in the way the opening to a horror story should be. As a writer, Machado is able to pull you in easy before opening you up to the weirdness of the town and how it touches the girls’ lives.
Additionally, Machado’s writing is deep, dark, and her descriptions of the splitting earth are unsettling. Using narration like prose pays off for the writer, using Dani’s artwork to map out the story and add visuals to her weighty words. The town of Shudder-To-Think is abysmal. It’s cursed even, highlighted by El’s descriptions of sickness, disappearances, and of the way the half-empty-half-full-town survives on those who cannot leave. Machado brings the well-known creepy town formula to The Low Low Woods #1 in a unique way when coupled with Dani’s art. Shudder-To-Think feels like Twin Peaks, Silent Hill, and all the other terrible and weird towns we know.
Dani’s art is personal. Her pencils and inks look like something you find in a personal sketchbook, with each image not fully detailed yet fully realized. For example, instead of drawing lips as a whole, they ink the top lip, adding expression and character without detailing every piece of the character. It reads beautifully and is accentuated by the choice to not outline every part of the characters. Instead, Bonvillain’s color work is allowed to bring out the art in a different, and in my opinion, intimate way. Additionally, Wands’ letters are scratchy, as if written by El, making them carry her voice even more.
Horror has long been dominated by narratives that center white women and embody the fear that their often male directors feel towards them. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an uptick in stories being promoted that are created by and feature people of color. While our stories have been horror since its inception, the newfound promotion and funding of them is allowing a whole new wave of horror. The Low Low Woods #1 adds to the growing catalog that centers on people of color and it does so in a beautiful and eerie start to the series.
There is not one element of The Low Low Woods #1 that feels impersonal, yet all of it feels bigger than this single issue, leaving me eager to add issue two to my pull list as soon as I can. With one creature shown, I know there is so much more to come.
The Low Low Woods #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
The Low Low Woods #1
There is not one element of The Low Low Woods #1 that feels impersonal, yet all of it feels bigger than this single issue, leaving me eager to add issue-two to my pull list as soon as I can. With one creature shown, I know there is so much more to come.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.