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Welcome to a new installment of Ltd Edition, our monthly roundup of editorial news and reviews from the Argentine independent comic scene. On this occasion, I find myself overjoyed to see more and more people receiving their COVID vaccine, and hopeful that we are able to overcome the pandemic and enjoy the cultural and social life that seemed out of reach just a few months ago.
These hopeful spirits are further bolstered by the work of independent comics authors, releasing work month after month despite the pandemic context and providing their readers with quality material for their hungry eyes. On this occasion, we season joy and hope with a pinch of horror as we delve into the pages of Galgo, an anthology of short stories by Athos Pastore that explores horror found among memories.
Athos Pastore is an author who keeps defying the conventions of the graphic medium, generating multifaceted works that incorporate influences from visual design and photography to achieve works that always escape the label of a recognizable style. In this column we have covered his works close to visual poetry and dystopian science fiction. This new release through Deriva Editora (Cordoba-Buenos Aires label that he shares with Pablo Ontivero) continues with these jumps from one genre to another: this time we find him exploring the horror genre through the three short stories that make up the Galgo anthology.
The common thread through these stories will be this slender breed of slender canines (known in Spanish as “galgo,” and in English as “greyhound”) and the existence of a cult that pays worship to them from the shadows. Like any great horror story, its authorial effectiveness is in partially unveiling the silhouettes, moving between the shadows to generate discomfort instead of showing the stitches of the monster’s costume head-on. Pastore seems very comfortable moving through the mysterious veil and letting the reader imagine the connection between the illustrations on the page, resulting in a mental image enhanced by what we see on paper.
The anthology begins with Galgo, the story that gives the book its title. It follows the story of an Olympic runner reliving trauma when she encounters a caged greyhound in an airport. In a graphic tribute to the visual and psychological style of the Cine Giallo of the 70s, Pastore plays with photography, with a saturation and pixelated effect on the images, maximizing the emotional charge of the memories that are manifested in the protagonist while running like racing dogs, not knowing whether they’re headed to the finish line or fleeing from the past.
In Estatuilla, a visit to an antique dealer connects two investigators with an unsolved police case which is then dramatically reopened. This story features linework and a use of light and dark that harkens back to classic comics, but with subtle choices in the composition of its vignettes and a focus that combines the fantastical with the mundane. Memories are a recurring theme, the weight caused by unsolved cases and the danger contained in certain artifacts that time renders harmless by hiding their true meaning. An engine to awaken terror in characters and readers alike.
In Lagrima, the final story in the collection, Pastore delves into a style that oscillates between illustration and pixel art, creating a portal to a dimension where all the symbols throughout the stories converge and the core of a ritual bleeds into images. We can only delight ourselves with horror in the evolution of the figures that merge with each other the page and disintegrate into pixels, as if a feverish dream that mortifies the protagonists in nineteenth-century horror stories. It is a testament to Pastore’s authorial ability to take us from psychological terror to cosmic horror, connecting all the stories in a visual climax.
Galgo is a journey through 34 pages that feel as if the fabric of time is torn, without beginning or end, without a clear distinction between past and present and with more doubts than certainties; a winning recipe for a rewarding horror reading experience. Ideal for fans of the genre interested in seeing how effective their favorite genre of cinema or literature is translated into the comic, or for those interested in experimental comics, in the possibilities found when transmuting the classic chiaroscuro of black and white art through the filter of pixels. A feeling comparable to staring at TV static and finding terrifyingly familiar shapes in the white noise.
We wrap up this month’s column with one last reason for celebration: the Recoleta Cultural Center has opened a call for graphic novels in cooperation with three independent publishing labels: La Deriva Editora, Hotel de las Ideas and La Pinta. The three publishers together with the committee of the cultural center will select one work per publisher to release. To participate, simply fill out the form and present at least 20 finished pages of the project. Registration will last until August 23, the ideal opportunity to finish those sketches or pass the info on to a friend who had an idea in hand to start a comic!