From the winner of the inaugural Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition, here is a darkly funny story of obsession, beautifully crafted in embroidery and lino-cut.
Getting yourself a girlfriend is easy, according to Richard. All you need is papier mache, string, soft material, a balloon, some old fashioned bellows, and a good pair of scissors. The difficult bit is keeping her secret.
Set in an English suburb in the early 1990s, The Black Project by Gareth Brookes is the story of Richard’s all-consuming passion for creating ‘girls’ from household objects. But as his hobby begins to flourish, his real life friendships and family relationships deteriorate. Richard is an unreliable narrator, and the reader responds to his loneliness and his dogged attempt to find a companion, while being horrified by his warped creations. The novel’s focus is on the divide between childhood and adulthood; where sex, perversion, and the grotesque feature in their many forms.
Sublimely creepy... It feels authentic for the suburban setting, complete with spirit-crushing malaise, small joys and the lurking presence of circling, unseen terrors – a perfect, bland backdrop on which to examine the cruelty and banality of adolescence in full flame. The matter of fact delivery, through both word and image, works like a gift – not only in conveying moments of gruesome comedy, but also underplaying the inherent tragedy of frustrated feeling, still yet forming, barely understood.
Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet
The Black Project is full of that creeping horror feeling, you know the sort... dark memories of childhood, creatures under the bed, the terrifying walk home in the dark, the sweat-drenching dream that leaves you unsettled and on edge all day, that sort of thing. Brookes plays on that feeling, adding dark humour and deadpan first person voiceover to create something really unsettling, genuinely creepy. Horrific at times, ridiculous at others,The Black Project is a fascinatingly creepy experience.