WRITER: Steven Deighan ARTIST: Terry CooperIndependently published
There’s something fresh and invigorating about small time comic book creators, in that they’re driven by a passion for what they’re doing rather than commercial restraints. In many ways, they parallel the spirit of independent film-making, strong on ideas whilst constrained by budget, with an eye on being more experimental and personal.This is something which marks out Feels Like Stephen King, a foray into horror for Edinburgh-born Steven Deighan. He has been shaping his skills through short stories and as a result has found a way of adapting that set-up to comic books, alongside artist Terry Cooper. This one-off comic is a tribute to their enthusiasm and quiet ambition.
It’s a straightforward story. Eric Bains is an aspiring young writer who’s seeking to publish his first novel. The postman delivers his returned manuscript with a note that says it’s been accepted. He’s delirious with excitement but the offers comes with a ‘special agreement’ that could help find an new audience. So will Eric accept the deal to see his name in print, or can he extricate himself before the ink or indeed the blood on the contract is dry?
Feels Like Stephen King is written in the spirit of the horror masters of short stories such as MR James, Roald Dahl and indeed King himself. It doesn’t spring from an outburst of unadulterated orginality since it works within a certain formula for short stories, but Deighan understands equally the pleasures and constraints that come from an atmosphere-building tale with a twist at the end.
It has echoes of EC Comics and the collaborate work of Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith . There’s a great sense of confidence in the economy of the story. He creates a first-person narrative that gets you into the head of his young hero, Eric, without an over-reliance of explanatory panels. Instead, he allows Terry Cooper’s art to reveal everything you need to know, cleanly and concisely. There’s maybe a certain naivety to the figures, but Cooper shows a measured sense of draughtsmanship and grasp of the narrative sequence. With luck both Deighan and Cooper will hone their talents with experience and maintain that spirit of independence which gives them their energy, becoming the latest in the line of comic book talent to burst across the Scottish borders.