One and Done – The Belfry

Gabriel Hardman – Writer and Artist

Gabriel Hardman is an artist whose work always stands out among the masses, whether drawing capes or aliens or his own creations. In The Belfry, he had taken time out from his Invisible Republic title published through Image to try something a little new and to take a break as he put it in the afterword. So it is that a tale of horror would come to life, one based upon a sketch he had done years earlier and the result would be The Belfry, a story of vampires or perhaps more accurately bat-men. It all begins when a plane crash-lands on an island after something flies through the windshield and while it lands safely enough, the pilot is bitten by one of these strange creatures. Waking up sometime later, he finds that his wound has healed and the passengers, for the moment, are safe. All of this only lasts for mere moments though as they find themselves under attack by these bat-men and taken away to their lair where they will either become bat-men themselves or slaves of the horde. It is hard to distinguish exactly what these creatures are though bat-men will suffice for that is what they look like. Hardman does an incredible job at bringing this story to life, a tale that is simple in nature and not too long so as to overstay its welcome. As such, the horror really punches as these people quickly realize that they are in a helpless situation, one that they will not get out of and that death is just around the corner. It is a dark and grungy bit of horror that works on every level, hitting every note perfectly and all of it encapsulated by the doomed pilot who thinks he is going to survive, only to have his transformation thrust upon him by whatever pathogen was injected into his bloodstream by the teeth of those monsters. Hardman leaves the book off with a note of futility as well, bringing things full circle as the pilot would be the man to bring the next plane down, as unwitting as it might have been. Drawn with a darker palette in mind, The Belfry could easily have been a feature in the monster mags of old and yet as it stands, it is the perfect break one could ask for from the plethora of material that is released on a weekly basis.

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