Emily Carroll may not be a household name yet, but every comic she creates is a horror-filled masterpiece. My first brush with her name was 2019’s When I Arrived at the Castle, which became one of my favorite graphic novels of 2019. Ever since then, when I see her name on something, I can’t help but be excited. So, when I found Through the Woods at my local used book shop, I knew I had to buy it.
THROUGH THE WOODS IN FIVE TALES
Through the Woods contains five separate horror stories each created by Carroll, including woods to some degree. Horror seems to be Carroll’s forte, and this shows extremely in each tale. Whereas she could’ve had each story interact, or connect in some manner, she keeps them short, contained stories. That in mind, not much background is given, keeping each story mysterious. This works out great in her favor, as each story makes you think once you’ve finished it. Instead of giving to much in the way of plot, Carroll hides a lot, making you imagine a lot of the horror.
Nonetheless, when she does show the mysterious happenings, it’s equally terrifying. Yet, her horror isn’t just scary due to the mysterious, but for the real fears they draw upon. Through the Woods deals with isolation, a parent leaving, fear of the unknown, the guilt of killing someone, a body snatcher, and the woods. As Carroll say’s, “It came from the woods. Most strange things do.” As someone who lives next to woods, Carroll captures the creepiness in each story perfectly.
PLAYING WITH LETTERS
As a creator, Carroll has a lot of strengths. As she does every step herself, she knows what and how she wants something done. That in mind, her lettering has always been fantastic in her comics. The manner that she uses words, and the job of lettering vastly improves her stories. She not only uses this to portray what the character has to say but as a visual element as well. Her lettering is by no means the conventional manner you’d see in comics, and that’s what makes it stand out. She uses the element to its full extent to excel the story she is telling.
A fantastic example in Through the Woods is when a character say’s, “We were separated.” During this, the “We were” is outside of the panel, whereas “separated” is contained in the panel. This trick makes you pause in the middle, verbally making you separate the read. Carroll can make you feel the separation just by messing with the lettering. Nonetheless, this is but one moment of her fantastic lettering.
ART THAT SCARES
Carroll’s art is always a treat to indulge yourself in. Much like her lettering, she holds herself to no rules when it comes to storytelling. One page could contain a myriad of panels, yet the next could be empty except one panel, to emphasize what she is showing. This is what is exciting about her work. Each page is a visual phenomenon, where she uses the page to her advantage. One thing Carroll uses a lot is negative space. She uses this for different story reasons, yet never overuses it.
One scene in Through the Woods that deserves mention is when Carroll introduces three sisters. Although just looking at these characters, you could tell whose older; she uses panels to showcase even more. Carroll has the oldest sister in a bigger panel, with the sizes getting smaller for each younger sister. Nevertheless, this may not be the biggest visual achievement in Through the Woods, it’s a simple, effective one.
HORROR THROUGH THE WOODS
Emily Carroll is a master at her craft. It’s hard to pick up any of her graphic novels and not fall in love, even if it isn’t your genre. Her writing is fantastic, yet combined with her masterful eye for visuals, you’re always in for an amazing read. She completely understands how to make a gorgeous comic. This skill is showcased in every aspect of Through the Woods. Even if you aren’t a fan of horror, these five tales are worth the read.