reflection

A horror short that irons out the weirdness of the first issue to create a more streamlined and darkly funny comic.
Writing/Plot
Pencils/Inks
Colors
Lettering
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Review: HOTELL #2 – Or, a Case for Couples Therapy

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Writer John Lees and artist Dalibor Talajic, along with Lee Loughridge on colors and Sal Cipriano’s lettering, bring another chapter of short comic horror with “Hotell” #2. This issue manages to smooth out the rougher edges of the first issue by more carefully implementing its completely off-the-wall moments. The final product is a comic with a familiar premise that still offers gruesome and darkly hilarious slasher-horror fun in an ever-building mythos.

“You won’t find it on any map, but if you happen to be driving down Route 66 late at night and you’re truly desperate for shelter, sanctuary or secrecy, you might see a battered sign on the side of the road: The Pierrot Courts Hotel. – where many check in but few check out.”

Writing & Plot

The story of “Hotell” #2 centers around a couple taking a road trip who check into the Pierot Courts Hotel for the night. They seem like a simple and lovey-dovey couple until the husband’s intentions become clear. What starts as a simple story of two lovebirds turns into a grisly and eerie tale in a Hotel at the edge of reality and sanity. The idea that Pierrot Courts makes itself available to travelers with questionable motives is the central element to these comics. This issue reinforces that element with a simple example of murder trope, but then complicates it with the Hotel’s own supernatural elements. That’s the real potential in “Hotell,” just the idea that such a place can elevate familiar horror and add twists specific to the strange aspects of Pierrot Courts.

Lees’ linear plotting and mix of horror and gallows humor are reinforced by his sense of dialogue. “Hotell” has little to no narration outside of the desk clerk’s ominous introduction to the establishment, and so the rest of the storytelling is told by silent panels and character interaction. The dialogue has a naturalistic and believable flow to it that aligns with whatever strange or grotesque happening may occur in-panel. The silent panels are used largely for foreshadowing, an effect that creates an entertaining reveal for the final page. The blend of horror and gallows humor in this issue is reminiscent of a  “Tales From The Crypt” episode, and will no doubt be a treat for fans of this kind of short-horror experience.

Art Direction

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Dalibor Talajic demonstrates an incredible amount of artistic range in “Hotell” #2. Like the first issue, he is capable of crafting character drawings and environments that are naturalistic and believable, while also creating moments of eerie supernatural horror. There’s an unusual subplot involving a black rabbit (no spoilers) that jumps out in immediate contrast to the rest of the relatively normal-looking events that really showcase how Talajic can jump from one tone to the complete opposite. While there isn’t anything quite as trippy or outlandish as the prior issue here, the art holds its own just by being so sharp. This is helped by Lee Loughridge’s colors, which provide the meat to Talajic’s bones of penciling. The more alarming scenes mentioned earlier are so striking because of Loughridge’s color choice, with deep blacks taking up whole panels and then shifting into literal rainbows on the next page. There’s a shifting range from the innocuous to the insane that makes the art in this series a perfect match for what’s planned in the scripts.

“Hotell” #2 is a simple yet satisfying and fun second chapter in this short-horror anthology series. The abstract elements from the prior issue are cut down in favor of a familiar premise that is contorted by the supernatural elements of Pierrot Courts to create a surprising and often humorous time in the desert at the edge of sanity. If “Hotell” seems like your kind of trip, be sure to check out AWA Studios at webtoons.com, where you can read this and other comics for free right now!

 

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Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.