“It’s so funny to discover you’re made of meat and at any moment the world might take a bite. Our species comes wired with a great sense of humor. It’s one of our best traits.”
– From the introduction by Joe Hill
Brian Coldrick’s Behind You (collecting many of the images from his web series) is a fantastic mix of horror and very, very dark humor. If you like “two sentence ghost stories” you’ll love these, because each one only has a sentence, maybe two, to tell the story, with the picture on the next page. So you have a second to absorb the words, and then you get a little jump scare when you turn the page.
In some ways he’s a lot like Edward Gorey and Charles Addams, in that he’s creating beautiful, gothic, intensely creepy images. There’s also a little bit of humor in each of his paintings, but not a “oh that’s just goofy” type of humor, it’s more like the terrified giggle you get when something awful happens in a horror movie, a hysterical startled laugh.
And like Gorey and Addams, Coldrick only gives you a single image to tell the story, one little piece of the puzzle, and you’re on your own after that, left to imagine what happens one second later.
But where Gory and Addams feel very Victorian (even though both of them were 20th century dudes) Coldrick can get that same gothic creepiness even when his characters are in modern clothes and places. Several of the miniature stories are science-fiction pictures, and they’re just as beautiful and disturbing.
With over a hundred in the book, some of the stories are definitely scarier than others, but they’re all filled with meticulous detail and beautiful lighting. I loved the thought that went into even the most subtle elements. The tribal god with two heads in the old storeroom. The burned woman clawing her way out from under the bed. The delicate lines of the skeleton hovering behind you. The green light from the steampunk machine that reveals the monster. The long moment it took to figure out what the cat is staring at. The sunlight on the entrails hanging from the woman in the window. The creature in the bathroom made of eyes and teeth.
(Not cool, Coldrick, I’m gonna be thinking about that last one every time I use a public restroom, THANKS.)
And I know a lot of people like to jump over the prefaces in books, but I wouldn’t skip the introduction by Joe Hill, he does a great job setting the mood for what you’re about to read.
I know it’s scary to be all alone in the dark.
But not as frightening as when you realize