No matter how old you are, there’s some unease about what lies hidden in the dark. Shadows can play tricks on you, but usually discounting these strange figures as your own imagination doesn’t make you any less uncomfortable. In Thom Burgess and Barney Bodoano’s THE EYRIE, what lurks in the dark is anything but a harmless shadow. The graphic novel follows a photographer, Rebecca, who is struggling to keep her job. When her boss sends her to the remote British countryside for a project, Rebecca must stay in an old cottage. Immediately,  she begins to see strange elongated figures in pastures and at her window. The more she learns about the quiet town, the more she uncovers about its sinister past.

Palpable Fear in THE EYRIE

When it comes to horror movies and shows, creators can utilize sound as well as visual effects. But in comics, illustrations do most of the work and must make up auditory cues like sound effects and music. Bodoano’s work in THE EYRIE is absolutely chilling and perfect for the story. At first, the illustrations are relatively light, yet still unsettling. The use of stippling and hatching gives the page a rough texture. And as the story goes on, the setting becomes darker until finally we’re consumed by darkness.

the eyrie
Image courtesy of Thom Burgess and Barney Bodoano

But the journey is the most exciting part. Over forty pages, THE EYRIE is a great slow burn. Personally, I love horror that holds back. You can feel the story building, but the threat isn’t immediately apparent. Movies like CREEP and THE STRANGERS come to mind when it comes to subtle build-up. Games like SLENDER also utilize this fear of just barely being able to see what lurks in the dark. In THE EYRIE, we get glances of the creatures before they show themselves. There’s a constant feeling of being on the cusp of danger. This kind of psychological terror keeps you on edge, even if it’s fiction.

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Historical Elements

THE EYRIE explains the origin of the lurking shadows in an interesting way. The mangled creatures are actually smugglers from long ago. After being caught and tortured by stretching their limbs and torso, the smugglers were thrown into the sea. But their tunnels didn’t stay vacant for long. Because the town is so stuck in the past (cobbled streets, lack of phone and internet service, far from larger towns and cities) it only makes sense that it would be plagued by such archaic beings.

the eyrie
Image courtesy of Thom Burgess and Barney Bodoano

It’s a great spin on vengeful spirits, though these immortal smugglers are much more tangible than ghosts. The historical context also allows for a great mystery plot. We follow along with Rebecca as she discovers each clue. And instead of trying to explain in great detail, we’re left to piece these bits together with our own speculations.

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Rebecca has a lot more guts than I would in this situation. Even after running away from one of the creatures, she plays it off as being a bull that a farmer forgot in the pasture. She’s a skeptic, so when she finds the strange owl symbol of the smugglers all over the town and the cottage’s dark basement, her interest is purely curiosity. She doesn’t realize how much danger she’s in until it’s too late.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

With the temperatures dropping and the days shortening, the best time to read spooky comics is here. THE EYRIE should definitely be on your to-read list this fall. The pacing is perfect, the illustrations match the grim story, and the horror elements complement mystery. Burgess and Bodoano’s work comes together scarily well and will make you think twice about turning out the lights. This is not a story for those who favor happy endings.

the eyrie
Image courtesy of Thom Burgess and Barney Bodoano

Check out THE EYRIE on Big Cartel!

THE EYRIE by Thom Burgess and Barney Bodoano
THE EYRIE is a perfect example of a horror comic with a simple style. The overbearing atmosphere will make you feel as though you're the one being watched.
95 %
Eerie eyrie

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