Everyday is the worst day of someone’s life, especially if a meticulous murderer makes an appearance. Written by Jed McPherson and illustrated by artists Fabio Silva Guimarães, Joseph Velasquez, André Stahlschmidt, Chris Shehan, Francesco Iaquinta, Diego Guerra, David Tomas Cabrera, Juanfrancisco Moyano Guerrero, Emily Pearson and Anna Wieszczyk, Jacob explores the evolution of a twisted serial killer through the stories of his victims. While Jacob offers a positively horrifying story, it leaves too much to the imagination and may leave readers scratching their heads rather than just disturbed.
Jacob is a series of vignettes following the murderous exploits of Jacob, a serial killer with a penchant for fingers and the postal service. It begins with child Jacob, abducted but not terrified of his captors, unlike the two girls in the same predicament. Instead, he stares his abductors down and pulls a Hannibal Lecter style escape. It spirals into madness from there. Be it a woman hard at work trying to prevent people from killing themselves, or a man sitting on a park bench enjoying his day, no one is safe from “The Fingerman.”
Even the author himself refers to Jacob as an “… odd one,” but that is a gross understatement. This comic gives off a vibe between a Saw film and a watered-down Chuck Palahniuk read. Perhaps it’s because Halloween recently passed, or because Jigsaw crawled its way into theaters that’s aiding that assertion. The comic is drenched in horror, shock and gore, and some readers won’t be able to stomach that. However, Jacob does offer an intriguing albeit frustrating story. McPherson intentionally leaves critical details out of each vignette. Readers can either appreciate that subtlety or feel there’s a page missing from each section.
In either case, Jacob never feels like it comes to a full circle. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s mostly explaining rather than tying up loose ends or connecting the threads between the characters or their stories. If anything, the comic really should have come with its own police board so readers can fill in the gaps themselves.
It’s hard to dissect Jacob on a narrative level because there is a dissociation between each chapter’s artwork. This comic has a different artist for each chapter. The styles of each artist are so dissimilar it’s jarring to read each issue back-to-back. There is no natural flow. The only uniform element is the use of black and white, but even that is dramatically different in each issue. For example, in the first chapter “Kidnapped,” the stark use of the white works well with the intensity of the chapter. It’s a fantastic way to start the show. However, that power and consistency doesn’t last. And it is hard to maintain that momentum, but as the story unfolds, the artwork never reclaims that energy.
Instead, the artwork , in some issues, becomes more of a distraction than a way to tell a cohesive story. Chapter nine “All Roads,” its mostly a gray blob. Wrinkles in characters’ faces look like drawn-in afterthoughts instead of blended in well. In chapter six “Junkie,” the character’s dimensions are completely off in some panels. At one point, the titular junkie Emily turns to the side and she’s missing her jaw line. It highlights the apparent strength of some of the artists versus others, especially when characters pop up in other chapters, and they’re drawn in a wholly different way. The varying aesthetics of each artist’s work ranges from awe-inspiring to baffling, leaving a disjointed taste.
A telling line in the final chapter “Retirement” reads, “But details don’t matter. Not when they get in the way of a good story.” That wink of self-awareness glosses over some major issues Jacob has. You know, other than being a serial killer. Overall, Jacob is an odd story. Some readers will love the mystery and will throw themselves into the puzzle. Others won’t be able to move past the confusing plot and muddled artwork. Whichever poison you pick, count your fingers and your toes and read at your own risk.