Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Splash of Slash

In comics, splash pages are simply full-page panels meant to grab your attention.

In horror comics, splash pages usually serve one of two functions:
1. They open the story (providing setting and mood)
2. They close the story (with the big payoff)

We've all seen the big payoff, the twist ending presented in full-page art used effectively in horror comics. Take for example the last page of John Stanley's "Crazy Quilt". (If you want to read the entire story on Frank M. Young's 'Stanley Stories' blog, be my guest.)

However, we're here to talk about opening splashes.

Most horror comics are 5-8 page one-trick-ponies printed in an anthology. Some use splashes, some don't. An opening splash may follow a one-page prelude, or it may start the tale. Heck, it might even be a 2-page splash and will usually contains the credits. But there is one thing it should always do:

Set the mood and setting.

Wally Wood's splash page to 'V-Vampires!', (a parody of EC Comics from "Mad" issue #3) is AMAZING! It's a shame they didn't leave the original alone. It tells you everything you need to know about the setting, the mood, and grabs your attention... A beautiful, young lady named Godiva walks the fog-shrouded streets of London... alone... at 5 to midnight. The 'Klek klek klek klek klek' of her high heels along the cobble stones gives the panel a sense of motion, urgency... perhaps even a little fear. Yet the 3 silly looking vampire bats flying above and title tell you this is a parody.

Jeff Jones' "An Axe To Grind" from Vampirella #5 is perfection for an opening splash.

The sense of isolation and fear is palpable. We know this girl's alone, in the dark, and in serious trouble. The negative space surrounding the title character is your setting highlighting the mood. In fact, the darkness almost seems to creep up from underneath, as to engulf the girl.

On a side note, check out how close panel 4 on page 6 is to the 'Hh-ere's Johnny!' scene in "The Shining". Stephen King published 'The Shining' in 1977. Vampirella #5 is around 1970. Hmmmm... I wonder...

And if there was ever a splash that was made for page-turning, go no farther than Johnny Craig's opening to "Dead -Ringer" from Crime Suspenstories #2.