Graphic Novel Review: Lip Hook

PUBLISHED: 15:54 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:54 09 January 2019

Lip Hook

Lip Hook

Archant

(SelfMadeHero)

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between this graphic novel and the Twitter phenomenon that is Hookland, the guide to a lost English county which never existed, but has its own twisted mythology and secret history (See @HooklandGuide).

The similar names aside, there’s much here which echoes the same themes, uncovering a destination from which the unwary traveller might never return, where folklore is enshrined in everyday life, and with a sense of rural unease which cannot be easily explained.

As Hookland creator David Southwell explains: “I wanted to write something fictional about the high strangeness of my childhood. How England was a weirder place back then. About how when I was growing up the TV news bulletins would carry stories about UFO sightings or ghosts in the same 15 minutes as IRA bombings. How everywhere you went, each church, alley or wood seemed to have some folklore attached to it. Everywhere seemed to be ghost soil. The whole landscape was a battery storing myth to be encountered.”

Writer David Hine and artist Mark Stafford have adopted a similar approach in crafting the village of Lip Hook, somewhere which inhabits the same world of British horror where you might find the stories of MR James and Algernon Blackwood, and films such as The Wicker Man and The Blood on Satan’s Claw.

Artist Stafford excels himself with disturbing imagery that complements Hine’s unsettling script, using an earthy palette to illustrate his grotesque characters and landscape which adds to the murk surrounding the village itself.

There is a past here which the inhabitants try to forget, a tradition of feminine magick and pagan worship, bound up in mysterious choking mists and swarms of unusual insects. These disparate aspects combine in the present day following the arrival of two enigmatic fugitives: a beautiful woman and a man with a gunshot wound, who have escaped to Lip Hook with a suitcase full of treasure.

Their influence shifts the dynamics of the village, reawakening the latent power lurking beneath the surface, and the disruption they unleash threatens to tear Lip Hook apart.

With the likes of Hellblazer writer Jamie Delano a self-confessed Hookland fan, it would be interesting to know whether this book was influenced by Southwell’s creation, or just tapping into a vein of weirdness which permeates throughout our nation.

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