Welcome to The Seance Room, home of Harry Weiss. He is a collector of fine spirits. No, not the kind you make martinis with. Six ghosts, each with a unique set of skills, offer solace in their own twisted way to those in need of advice or reformation. From a crooked politician to a grieving widow, the seance room doesn’t play favorites.

In this Source Point Press series, writer Ben Goldsmith and artist Keyla K. Valerio create a grim yet enthralling world. Each issue is standalone; you won’t have to wait for the next issue for a conclusion. However, I highly recommend the first issue as well, which you can find here.

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Twisted Charity

In THE SEANCE ROOM #2: LA VIUDA, recently-widowed Carla comes to Harry’s manor. She wants help finding a proper resting place for her beloved’s ashes: somewhere more personal than a cold urn. This situation differs a lot from the first issue, making it tragic to watch unfold. We’re not dealing with a politician fishing for votes, but a woman in pain.

This time around we meet a pair of ghosts, Love and Power. They advise her on how to honor her lost partner, suggesting a delicate rose bush or immortalization as a star. Instead, Carla chooses a tree to grow in her yard, as Reynaldo was fond of the forest. Unfortunately, the peaceful tree turns into something gruesome — Reynaldo’s soul crying for help inside the bark.

Image courtesy of Source Point Press

It’s obvious that Harry and his ghoulish partners aren’t helping anyone, but I find it interesting that maybe he believes he is. He speaks cryptically and has a rather sinister appearance in general: a full suit and villainous facial hair to match. You might say he looks stuck in a different time to the point where his mannerisms and speech even differ from his guests. His mantra, “we do good things here,” is hollow in context but in some way, there is a silver lining. The politician from the first issue decides to revoke his anti-abortion stance, which helps others. And Carla is able to let go of Reynaldo, even if it’s in the most brutal way possible.

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Horrifyingly Beautiful Art

Keyla K. Valerio’s art is truly perfect for THE SEANCE ROOM. The style isn’t overly grotesque, but there are still moments that gave me the chills, especially the bloodied faces of Love and Power. Each of the ghosts reminds me of tarot or playing cards as well, giving the comic an almost game-like feeling. The castle/manor also has an antiquated vibe as it’s completely cut off from time and modern day qualities.

Intense facial expressions, subdued colors, and awesome use of panels and page layout are just a few of the reasons this comic sucked me in. Even though the characters don’t get much backstory, we learn enough about them through their actions and appearances that we don’t question their pasts. Harry Weiss is an enigma, and his spooky, early 20th-century vibe satisfy me enough. I don’t need to know his entire backstory to truly see his character.

Image courtesy of Source Point Press

Valerio uses shocking images sparingly, which gives them much more weight in the narrative. The final scene, where Carla sprays blood all over herself and her yard cutting down the tree, is hard to look at but full of emotion. And the story has such a solid context for her grief that this final moment feels well-deserved.

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Final Thoughts on THE SEANCE ROOM #2

THE SEANCE ROOM #2 is a great standalone, but it keeps you wanting more. I assume each issue will cover one of the six ghosts and their specialties, so the storytelling potential is pretty diverse. Goldsmith’s storytelling and dialogue are fantastic and tellls us enough information without being completely “tell not show.” Valerio’s artwork balances out the missing pieces.

As I mentioned before, I also like the format of the story. The standalone nature makes it more accessible to many readers and, hopefully, entices them to pick up more issues. Some of my favorite media is set up like this, in “monster of the week” fashion, so I truly enjoy the idea of many smaller stories packed into one series.

Image courtesy of Source Point Press

Another aspect I love about this series is that the creators have immersed themselves in their research and presentation. The website for THE SEANCE ROOM even looks like an actual tourist location, complete with clever titles like “book a stay” and “buy the brochure.” But the most impressive part, to me, is that Goldsmith and Valerio attended a live seance in Salem, Massachusetts. I appreciate that the comic extends far beyond the pages and that the creators have taken great care to make THE SEANCE ROOM a full experience.

Check out THE SEANCE ROOM #2 and other Source Point Press titles here!

THE SEANCE ROOM #2: LA VIUDA by Ben Goldsmith and Keyla K. Valerio
THE SEANCE ROOM #2 is a compact story with a lot of substance. It's horror mixed with THE TWILIGHT ZONE, ethereal yet dark. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in ghost stories.
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