Written and illustrated by Deedee, Preta focuses on a mysterious monster that is terrorizing the town of Maul, as well as the only person (that we know of) who has come across said creature and survived.
In the first three issues of the series (meaning the Prologue, Episode 1, and Episode 2), readers are given longer and more detailed glimpses of the monster with each new segment. The terrifying arm reaching from the depths of the underground to snatch a hapless woman in the Prologue is then expanded upon in Episode 1 as a falling cigarette allows readers to get a glimpse of the creature’s face.
Episode 2 is the first instance in which we catch a full sighting of the monster, and we do so through the presence of Shik, who is presumably the central character of the series. Having a character within the comic see the entire creature synonymously with the reader was a smart decision because it established Shik as the possible eyes of the story, while still giving the reader a slight power over the character.
Preta manages to successfully create a dynamic between reader and story much like the standard horror films that have audience members screaming at the screen and telling the characters to run away or turn around. Despite the overarching mystery within the story, the readers are still privy to certain information prior to the characters themselves, meaning that there’s an almost constant state of suspense and wariness.
As a horror comic, Preta focuses heavily on the eeriness of showing a monster without explaining its presence or motivation. Very little is more disconcerting than a ruthless killer whose actions are seemingly spurned from being innately evil, and the monster in Preta seems to derive a sadistic pleasure in being destructive for little other reason than the fact that it wants to be. The still unnamed monster within the comic is as vile as they come, both aesthetically and in terms of morality. The grotesque features of the creature are rivaled only by it’s equally, if not more so, grotesque mannerisms and actions.
There doesn’t seem to be any sort of morals within the creature, who is just as willing to snatch a nameless male peddler as it is to eat a pregnant woman, making it even more dangerous than most villains seen in the typical comic series. The fact that there doesn’t seem to be any personal rules that the monster follows while seeking its latest victims is the most ominous thing about it… which is saying a lot considering it towers over the average man and has teeth and claws so physically damaging that a single one cuts through human flesh with an alarming ease.
As of yet, the person, or more accurately thing, responsible for the disappearances and death within the town of Maul has been nothing but vicious and generally terrifying.
The conflict between this unnamed monster and Shik will likely serve as the central plot line for the remainder of the series. The fact that Shik’s wife and unborn child were essentially eaten in front of him by the very creature who clawed out his eye, makes it likely that the story will revolve around the concept of vengeance in a Punisher-esque way.
There’s clearly an “It’s personal” vibe at the close of the second episode when we see a disfigured Shik pleading his case to the police and angrily defending his innocence as he is imprisoned as the main suspect of his wife’s disappearance (and presumed murder). The rage that this invokes, in addition to the police officers’ disbelief of his story, makes it clear that Shik will make certain that his path will cross with the murderous creature once again.
As far as the plot is concerned, there’s definitely enough intrigue in the story to warrant further reading in order to determine why this creature is terrorizing the town and just what Shik is going to do to stop it.
Though the story itself is reason enough to read the comic, perhaps my favorite aspect regarding the aesthetics of Preta, and the Spottoon site as a whole, is its continuous scrolling format. Rather than clicking through pages and having your eyes flick from one panel to the next, Spottoon formats its comics in a way that allows readers to simply scroll continuously and see each image individually, rather than as one of six on a page. The lack of separation is particularly beneficial to a comic such as Preta due to the fact that it allows for an increased feeling of unease.
The horror genre, which Preta more than fits in, is heavily reliant on suspense – something that the continuous scroll feature of the site is immensely successful at providing. There are numerous long images in the comic that would be far less impactful if viewed as a smaller version sandwiched between other panels. Readers aren’t spoiled by seeing an image in the bottom right of a page while focused on the upper left, and are treated to visuals in a teasing way that aids in amping up the anxious tone of the comic.
Similarly, the actual visuals within the comic aid in invoking a generally dark and ominous tone to the story. Predominantly drawn in blacks, greys, and the occasional neutral color, Preta is able to indicate more significant occurrences through the use of red. The color scheme is very obviously one that was chosen meticulously, with the sparse use of reds serving as an additional feature to emphasize the sickness of the story’s villain.
The color choice is really well done and makes for some pretty spectacular visuals that would otherwise be relatively basic were it not for the orchestrated use of color. A particularly gorgeous panel is the previously mentioned visual that depicts a cigarette ember falling down a pothole and moving past the hiding monster just close enough that readers are able to catch a glimpse of its face.
In my opinion, the horror genre is often the trickiest to get right. There needs to be an appropriate balance of visuals and plot in order to achieve the maximum level of suspense, and Preta manages this equilibrium quite well. It’s obvious that the style and story choices of the comic were chosen carefully with the intent of providing readers with a new and exciting comic that does just enough to pull you in and leave you wanting more.
Have you checked out Preta yet? If so, what did you think of this latest horror comic? And just how far do you think Shik is willing to go to stop the creature that killed his wife? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!