A bayou is an excellent place to set a horror story. The swamp drags everything into the muck. Sickly, greenish fog creeps everywhere. Misshapen figures lurk in murky shadows coating everything in a slimy feeling of wetness. There’s an eerie sensation of drowning. An entrapment under layers of fog. In short—a perfectly sinister setting for It Eats What Feeds It.
Artist Gabriel Lumazark clearly understands the bayou’s potential for surreal mystery and bone-chilling fear. The comic visually maximizes this enigma at its heart and effectively uses atmospheric art style to demonstrate this. Each frame paints a vintage photograph, with eerie watercolors and a dark, subdued palette. It’s a shame then, that this fantastic art style is hampered down by the story’s over-adherence to clichés. This prevents the overall graphic novel from rising into truly memorable horror territory.
The comic, written by Aaron Crow and Max Hoven, follows familiar beats that even readers who keep a wide berth from horror (or spend too much time on TV Tropes) will recognize. An ordinary guy answers a mysterious ad placed in a newspaper. The ad contains nothing besides a request for a handyman. The address is set in an isolated manor. A generous wage, and a femme fatale who’s hiding a dark secret entices the guy, so he stays.
There’s a mansion, appropriately shrouded in fog, filled with shadows and furniture covered in white sheets. We also have a forbidden metal door leading to the attic. There are monsters, murders, unscrupulous deals. There’s even nods to the familiarity of the whole setup. “Come on! This is so cliché!”; the protagonist will moan at the beginning of the comic as he desperately (and unsuccessfully) tries to start his car. Unfortunately, cheeky self-awareness doesn’t right the faults of these elements. And ultimately, It Eats What Feeds It‘s plot structure and characters remain disappointingly familiar.
Still, it is a suspenseful, creepy read. Sure, it adheres to familiar story beats. Sure, the characters and twists aren’t particularly fresh or novel. And sure, it’s sometimes not any creepier than your average haunted house (and is just about as predictable, too). But the comic still executes its basic premise well. It has a slow-burn pace that builds enough tension to be engaging. After all, a bayou is an excellent place to set a mystery; a story full of murky darkness that unspools slowly, swamping everything in a sinister mire. And ultimately, It Eats What Feeds It manages to do precisely that.