Pride, Texas is your typical small Southern town. It’s the kind of place where not everyone may go to church, but everyone goes to the Friday night football game. In short, it’s the kind of town where high school was Hell if you were in any way different than “the good kids” that don’t make waves or stand out.
Peter – the awkward kid recently diagnosed with Asperger’s.
Tommy – the metal-head with a short fuse.
Val – the quiet girl who developed too quickly.
Eric – the home-schooled kid with a secret.
Four targets coping with bullying for one reason or another.
Four kids in need of an outlet to escape their miserable lives.
Four outcasts united in their role-playing game hobby.
Four souls who are about to have their lives flipped upside down, after Eric’s efforts at leading a relaxation exercise awaken something that feeds on their anger… and manifests!
It’s hard to imagine that David Doub didn’t name his most recent book Demons In The Darkness as a mocking acknowledgement of Dark Dungeons – the infamously awful comic about the evils of Dungeons & Dragons. Certainly the story concept does seem to be satirizing Dark Dungeons, playing with the idea of teenagers truly evoking dark powers with their RPGs. The twist here is that Doub’s story is far closer to Stephen King than Jack T. Chick, though I hesitate to make that comparison for fear of suggesting this story is a rip-off of It.
While King doesn’t have a monopoly on stories involving small towns and monsters born of hatred, the comparison is inevitable given the set-up, if not particularly apt. What sets Demons apart from other horror stories that use demons as a metaphor for abuse is that Doub’s characters are better set-up as individuals. Their traumas are unique unto themselves and explored in vivid detail.
The artwork by Dominic Racho also seems to be mocking the style of a Chick Tract, though Racho’s style is far superior. The level of detail to Racho’s pencils is phenomenal and the use of shadow and black space only ads to the sinister setting of the story. Racho is also equally skilled when it comes to depicting modern settings and fantasy landscapes and I wouldn’t mind seeing him illustrate a full fantasy comic in the same style as the scenes depicting the teens’ game.
The only flaw to Demons In The Darkness is that the ending is a little pat, while simultaneously offering little sense of resolution. In this case, however, the journey is more important than the destination and the horror scenes leading up to the end as the teens’ guardian demon strikes out against their tormentors and the ultimate moral of the story make it well worth reading.
I should note that a Kickstarter is currently underway to distribute Demons In The Darkness to a wider audience. I should also note that Mr. Doub was kind enough to furnish a complete copy of the book in exchange for a review. That being said, while not much of a horror buff, I did enjoy this comic immensely and am personally contributing to help it get out there to more people. I think those of you who enjoy Stranger Things and similar entertainments will get just as much out of this as I did. Perhaps even more.