The Kill Screen: ILOVEYOU – Issue 1
Written by Mike Garley
Art by Josh Sherwell
Letters by Mike Stock
Alternative Cover by Ian Churchill
The Story: Humanity has reached its Kill Screen. Now only the strongest will survive as computer errors transcend from the digital world into our own, destroying everything in its way. Set two years after the ‘Kill Screen Event’ humanity is left on the brink of extinction leaving the remaining survivors caught in a deadly 8 bit fight for survival.
No one knows what caused the computer errors and technological faults to infect our world, but with a wide range of different dangers threatening the lives of the survivors on a daily basis no one cares, surviving is all that matters…
The Review: This book is an experiment in format and technique. Its title is a mixture of sentiments and its interiors are intentionally confusing in its switch and bait objectives. It’s a thriller of ideas with body horror and real world / digital world punches of sudden page turn surprises.
As a consequence, it’s hard too to put in a category and flits between small press and Vertigo/Avatar stylings. It’s genuinely quite a thrill to read. As I reach around a third of the way into the story, I began to think ‘trapped in a game?’ Maybe? Or has the world become a game?
It would be easy to categorise this book as an “It’s all happening in a computer world” story, but it certainly seems to speak to much more. Its centre, for me, anyway, is about relationships. It’s a book that uses a video game environment that seems at first glance to be humans stuck in a digitally induced zombie virus world and their struggle a la The Walking Dead to survive. But under that and at moments bubbling to the top is the story of a romantic break up “It’s not you it’s me” and “…please give me one more chance.” Dialogue like this almost ends up with you asking you to think of this as an indie romance book.
It’s as if Mike Garley has transformed a break up into a post-apocalyptic survival storyline. You, as a reader, allow this to suck you in before a violent impact shifts your perceptions. It’s interesting stuff.
The Kill Screen: ILOVEYOU is told quickly and at moments has you trying to guess what comes next but it is only in its finality that we see a small tale told on a grand canvas. This books works both as a twisty Twilight Zone/The Outer Limits-type story or as the opener to a much bigger and longer epic.
The colour artwork by Josh Sherwell makes really interesting use of shadows and light. They play with the iconography of our everyday interactions with computers. The horror uses flashes of pixilation that emphasise the settings and styles of a modern genre of horror. It’s a book that uses a number of clichés within the horror scenario (trapped in a room with overwhelming odds outside, a sudden shocking suicide, a twist ending etc.) but it carries them off successfully.
The Kill Screen: ILOVEYOU uses the computer screen/gaming imagery to good effect and has moments of stylised layouts that are eye catching and in a vibe that certainly reflects a scary mood. In fact the type design for the secondary title had me chuckling at its cheekiness. Its old school computering sent psychotic and suicidal. They take the familiarity we have with certain everyday computer benchmarks and twist your mind with these standards.
I hear that work is well underway for the next issue and from what I can see they show a slight change in approach with setting and colour palette that has me interested.
My copy had a cover by Ian Churchill that looks great but (if I had to be honest) led to a slight let down in my expectations on the interior art. Not that the interiors are bad, they are just different. But this isn’t uncommon in comics and hasn’t been for years. It does however add a real classy element to the whole package from the outside in.
Overall, The Kill Screen: ILOVEYOU is a stylish presentation and you can see the work and discussions that have gone into its creation there on the page. I can see that this is a series that will grow in popularity once it reaches that bigger market. Horror is often a hard thing to pull off within a comic but this does so successfully and with panache.
I shall certainly be looking for the next instalment and I see that it is really gaining some momentum as a book worth seeking out. It’s also available on Comixology (so you have no excuse).
– Tony Esmond aka Professor RipTide
Many thanks for reading. You can find me on Twitter @Ezohyez. So pop over and say hi
• You can get a print copy of The Kill Screen: ILOVEYOU from www.mikegarley-bigcartel.com
• Mike Garley the writer is a busy fella and has written series as diverse as Collider, Adventure Time, Eponymous and appears in OffLife. You can find examples of his work over at www.mikegarley.com or on Twitter @MikeGarley
• Ian Churchill can be found at www.ianchurchillart.com
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.