Shattered With Curve of Horn

Hello, reader! Come, sit a spell and let us talk.

With the exception of short-form comics, I typically have a rule about only reviewing works with at least a hundred pages under their belt. However, due to a number of factors, such as an upcoming Kickstarter for this comic, my own appreciation of the work, some schedule juggling, and because the author said “please”, I have decided to make a small exception to that rule. I suppose you could say that resolution was…

Shattered With Curve of Horn

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By Max M. Dowdle

Yeah, I don’t know what it means either.

Would you ever dream…in tandem with a partner?

Does your every creative idea…originate in the mind of another?

Is it possible you share a memory…with a stranger?

Will you remember the death of a friend…through the eyes of their lover?

It’s been eight years since Caitlin and Matthew have seen their old friend Pierce. Those intervening years saw Caitlin and Matthew married, and Matthew’s career as an oil painter blossom. Matthew is preparing to debut an exhibition of dream inspired paintings entitled “The Brazen and The Sacred,” and Caitlin has invited Pierce to meet them at their hotel beforehand. Pierce has his own idea about how the night should go though, and that includes uncovering a long-buried truth about their past.

(Taken from Comic Rocket)

Disclaimer; While this comic is artistic, it is NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN DUE TO NUDITY AND DEPICTIONS OF DRUG USE.

Since Shattered With Curve of Horn is still relatively new, this post won’t deal with characters or plot so much as my initial impressions.

2012-12-03-2012-12-3-Shattered_04SWiCH is an odd one to describe, partly because it is so nascent, but also because it’s so surreal. Surrealism as a subject does play a part in the story, but the comic itself also delights in toying with what the reader is and isn’t allowed to perceive. It’s a psychological drama with hints of science fiction that deals (in a Stephen King kind of way) with the idea of shared dreaming and the repercussions it might have on the dreamers.

That’s just the premise in a nutshell. In truth (as of this post), the three characters we’re introduced to haven’t even left Matthew and Caitlin’s apartment. The bulk of the “action” actually takes place in a flashback, told by Mat, to when the three of them and another friend named Shane all first met. So far, there are only two settings; the apartment, where Matthew is recounting his story, and a car ride to a campsite, where the flashback and the crucial event take place. With four walls constantly in the background, SWiCH sets up a subtle, tense atmosphere, invoking such classic dramas as Oedipus Rex and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Like Death (perhaps intentionally), SWiCH is all about memories and dreams, how distorted they can be, and how past sins, intentional or otherwise, can haunt or possess people’s lives. You can practically feel the oncoming tragedy welling up, just beyond sight.

The art is gorgeous, detailed, nuanced, and almost unattractively realistic in how it portrays people – especially awkward high-2013-03-25-2013-3-25-Shattered_20schoolers. Half the time, everyone looks as if they’re in a trance, lulling the reader into getting sucked in by the hypnotic art. We never see the characters perform dynamic action, only poses, and while I’d normally consider that a flaw, here I feel it amplifies the comic’s dreamlike qualities, as if it consisted solely of snapshots or flashes of memory. We get occasional flashes of things (most likely all connected) that happened at some point in the characters’ past. By the opening of the story, these events have already happened, but, by hinting at them, the comic gives us something to speculate on and foreshadows a future revelation and an understanding of its truth.

Dowdle’s use of imagery (nude women and all) also reminds me a lot of the images on classic Tarot cards and I can’t help but wonder if that was also intentional; the use of symbolism, the notion of the past giving shape to the future. To me, all of this indicates “yes”. If that is the case, then that means an incredibly impressive amount of subtlety and forethought was put into this work and I really must commend him for it.

Subtle, surreal, familiar, and strange, Shattered With Curve of Horn is one of the most artistic, intricate works I have ever been shown. It turns memory into mystery and dwells in the ephemeral landscape of lucid dreams. With masterful art and captivating writing, I’m eager to find out where it all goes.

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Shattered With Curve of Horn is is written and drawn by Max M. Dowdle. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to him. A list of other works by the author can be found here. Updates with two pages on Mondays.

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About Bedlam

Reviews webcomics regularly because he's a little bit insane. View all posts by Bedlam

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