Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Amaranth Creator(s): Willie Hewes
Publishers: Self Published
Price: £1.50(UK)

A lone woman wanders home in the dark of a Bristol night. She's talking to herself, trying to convince that she isn't afraid of the shadows where creepy guys might lurk. Once she arrives in her apartment building she starts to feel safe, but then a boy suddenly advances on her...

Upon first inspection this book might appear to be yet another Goth inspired gloom-fest. You've seen them, they mix the character designs of manga comics with amusing stories, often with sexual undertones. They rely on clichés to drive the stories along and never seem to get anywhere interesting.

Things are more involving with Amaranth The main character is dealing with something from her past, perhaps a boyfriend who has done something to make here angry and distrustful of men. She is also unsure of her own state of mind. Was that stalker real or a hallucination?

The plotting has a slow pace, taking its time to build up the central character's state of mind. The atmosphere of isolation develops through the internal monologue and artwork which portrays the urban landscape as sparse and empty. It looks like it may have been drawn with pastels of pencils, with an interesting texture. The outdoor scenes look like they are seen through an impressionist fog, and as the character's emotions change the environment distorts in some interesting ways.

The art manages to be both stylish and simple. The panels are built out of a minimum of detail, and uses smudges to good effect in depicting features such as eyes which are still alive with emotion and personality.

Plotting and art combine here to make a charming first issue in a series which promises to be interesting.

In a Word: Blossoming.

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