Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories
Creator: Brian Coldrick
Introduction: Joe Hill
Review by Anelise Farris
If you have been reading my reviews lately, you might have noticed a theme: horror, horror, horror. Tis the season, and publishers are delivering! Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories is an anthology by Brian Coldrick (the mastermind behind http://thehairsonthebackofyourneck .tumblr.com/ ). In brief, Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories is a collection of single-page illustrations that are accompanied by one sentence (or sometimes even a fragment) of story. The illustrations themselves do not build upon each other or connect so as to progress a plot in any way. These are entirely self-contained pages. However, they are all bound together by one common theme: you never know what’s behind you.
The talented horror-master Joe Hill penned the introduction for Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories, and his introduction has the same effect as everything else he writes: it unsettles. Hill’s words address the value of imagination for our everyday lives, and they prepare us for what we might find in these pages. Hill assures us that this is merely a story and of course we will be fine. But, then he has to leave us with this last line: “I know it’s scary to be alone in the dark. But not as frightening as when you realize you aren’t.”
Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories is structured so that one page has the narrative fragment and the following page has the accompanying illustration. You might be thinking it’s a waste of paper to have just one line of text on its own page. However, I assure you that Coldrick knows exactly what he’s doing. After you read a line, like “the mirror was already here when we moved in,” your imagination concocts its own horrific image before you even see what Coldrick has created. Coldrick doesn’t depend on gore and shock-factor to incite fear. Like Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, Coldrick aims to unnerve his readers, with oval-shaped illustrations, and a heavy use of gray and other faint or muted colors. Everything feels slightly off (cue Freud’s uncanny to the nth degree). And, there is a fantastically diverse range of horrifying scenarios: lake monsters, fairy-tale figures, haunted busses, keys to old rooms—basically, you name it, it’s here.
Buy it! Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories as a whole is a terrific, psychological thriller. You want to consume it all at once, but at the same time you hesitate—fearful of what comes next. The brilliance of the one-line stories is that we are invited, even required, to participate, to fill in the gaps. I advise reading this slowly, languidly, by a fire with a cup of tea, preferably in an old Victorian mansion with a bunch of creaky floorboards.