“‘In order to receive, first you must give.'”
The Plot evokes a more comfortable type of fear, at least at first. It gives the book a similar warmth as a campfire where you and your friends tell scary stories on a summer night. At first you’re excited, anxious for the thrill of something scary and the fear that starts in your gut. This is a world not so different from our own. A world where forces beyond our control carry so much weight over our daily lives. You can see yourself in these characters, their relationships, and their burdens. It’s a world that is unforgiving, and one mistake is swiftly punished. It’s a grotesque reflection of ourselves, and once that realization sets in, that’s when true scary story starts.
The horrifying presence in this book is something worth talking about. In many respects, the horror comes from the anticipation. Both the reader and Charles know something’s coming, and when it does, it’s more horrifying than you could have imagined for those few pages. “First you must give,” is all that it says, but it’s enough. Campbell’s shaky lettering and Saxton’s grotesque design do the rest. When the presence returns at the end, it’s even more horrifying. They’re only kids for crying out loud, but it’s unforgiving. “Too much Blaine blood,” it says. In most horror stories, you can run away from the monster, at least for a little while. You can’t escape genetics. You can’t escape what’s inside you.
The book’s most impactful element is its generational nature. There is an important spotlight on mental illness that lies at the root of the events that occur, and it’s a fascinating angle from which to explore the horror genre. It all starts with a chilling speech at a celebratory or benefit dinner. There are a lot of important layers here. First we have the background layer. It’s extremely detailed in some panels, but all the line art blends together just a bit more, and the colors are a bit more faded. Then we have Charles and his wife in the foreground. Their line art is more defined and the colors pop a bit more whiles still remaining within a purposefully saturated and bland office palette. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary here,” you think, but the words say otherwise. Campbell’s lettering in this scene, while simple, gives the speech meaning. The spooky yellow captions as the speech begins are enough to make you uneasy before giving you a false sense of comfort that it’s just a speech. It’s not long before you discover that it’s a lot more than that. At this point, you may realize that this book is devoid of joy. Everyone is looking around in fear of some presence that’s out to get them, and rightfully so. It’s what sticks with you after the story ends and makes you look forward to more while asking yourself if that’s such a good idea.
The Plot #1 digs deep into these characters and this family, especially highlighting how ingrained this curse is within the Blaine family and how inescapable it truly seems. You understand why Charles constantly looks over his shoulder and is worried at every instance of success. As the issue progress, you grow more and more worried for Zach and Mackenzie. As soon as they split up you know what’s coming and you’re begging for it not to happen. You understand these children now and they don’t deserve this, no one does, but you can’t do anything to prevent it. You saw it coming, it came, and now you can’t wait to read the next issue. Daniel, Moreci, Hixson, Boyd, and Campbell have created a special horror comic with The Plot #1 that both scares and excites you. You’ll be scared and ask for more.