Writer: Dan Watters / Artist: Caspar Wijngaard / Image
Picture this, it’s 1984 in California. It’s the middle of the evening and what is very clearly a haunted house makes a sudden and loud commotion. This is how the opening pages of Home Sick Pilots introduces us to the world and it honestly caught me off guard how much I became invested in the opening issue.
Given Watters’ pedigree as a horror-adjacent writer with Lucifer and Wijngaard’s previous work on Thunderbolt, it’s not too vexing that the two have been able to come together to weave a tale of how a member of a punk band managed to get involved with the afterlife, but it is surprising just how well everything flows.
Watters’ narration and dialog captures just the right amount of cryptic foreshadowing and concrete details and characterization that make it very clear how individual scenes progress and flow in one another. As is a common practice with many horror pieces, we start in media res that hints at the true horror to come and slowly work our way to that moment and Watters gives us that juicy tease in the beginning and then follows up with a very strong depiction of the punk scene in 1980’s. I love the sardonic energy in the panels, and I love how it escalates and gets involved.
But truly the stand-out for me is Wijngaard’s artwork alongside Bidikar’s lettering and Muller’s design work. The pages are gorgeous and have this grunge infused feel to the linework and the color that transitions brilliantly into the horror elements later on. There is a fantastic utilization of color and saturation and the issue is utterly engaging in how it frames different narrative elements, both in a literary and visual sense.
The protagonist Ami is a very strong lead, and given how the creative team has positioned the story, I am very excited to read future issues which is the goal of every pilot. There is a strong visual aesthetic matched by enthralling writing that leverages horror convention and trope to great effect and I’m excited to see where the story goes in the future. This is definitely one to be paying attention to and potentially a sleeper hit to cap off 2020.
9.0 “Nuclear #$%@ Bastards” out of 10