It’s fair to say that James McCulloch has been a source of some dark stories from the indie comic world with the likes of City Of Lost Souls & Little Girl Black already sliding into the more extreme category for comic book stories so his next release was always going to be an interesting one.
James has had some challenging times himself in recent years with one thing and another but part of his response from those personal challenges has been to pour that raw emotion and creativity into a new comic and the result of that is The Forest, The Chair and Those Forsaken There where he pours his own experiences into a dark & sinister world. It captures the life of Si as he nestled firmly between the real world as a disabled and fairly limited individual and a dream world that quickly becomes one filled with nightmares.
His quest for acceptance and the slim chances of a real relationship merge together to push a dream-like world into one of darkness and unexpected possibilities that could ultimately work against him. That leaves the development of this story around Si thrown into the air and the unknown, grim horror of a world blurred against reality becomes something that influences everything around him in a new way that may not suit his desires.
James seems to have moved into new territory with this release where his others may have been firmly held in the fiction category there’s something much more personal and realistic in this new title. It’s triggered from his own thoughts, his own perception and that itself makes this a story that moves into a whole new category where the world closes in around the central character and firmly displays the harsh reality of struggling with the challenges of a very personal psyche that challenges what’s seen as “normal” when trying to keep your head in reality.
Gritty, hard to accept as truth but ultimately rooted in the real world this feels like James’ most personal work to date and it shines through from that level of honesty being forced into the characters he’s chosen to represent his own head-space. Teaming up with Dan Charnley on art and Rob Jones on letters they’ve helped embrace the thoughts he has and converting them into a comic book form that grabs your attention and leaves you thinking about what you’ve just seen. Part entertainment, part reality check, this crosses the line between comic book & real life and I’m sure James is quite comfortable with pouring his heart & soul into a comic that will make people think and hopefully get a more relevant reaction from anyone that owns & escapes into it.
Stunning in it’s execution….as much for it’s honesty & ability to risk everything to get it’s message across and it’s a story that should leave everyone thinking about the broader implications of the themes James has chosen to cover. A head-fuck of epic proportions but one well-worth getting on-board with.