Review - Haunted #1

"It's LA. Nobody walks."

Breaking up is hard to least, that's what the songs tell us. Whether you're the one doing it or having it done to you, long relationships have a way of leaving fragments of memories behind in the two former partners. Those fragments typically come and go, but some people find a way to create an imagined projection of the person composed of those memories. In a way, the imagination haunts the thinker, much like Haunted #1 from Maerkle Press. The book is written and illustrated by Thom Zahler.

Peter is an aspiring Hollywood screenwriter, whose imagination won't let him forget the girl back home who broke his heart. Keeping around a mental projection of that girl makes things difficult for him to live in the present and enjoy new relationships. This prompts Peter to go through something of a soul-search to find out what will really make him happy and how he can focus on his future instead of his past.

Zahler's story has pretty wide appeal, as most people can relate to a lost love that didn't quite work out. The big thing with Haunted though is that Zahler embodies that memory for Peter, giving him a "ghost" so to speak that still haunts him, even three years after they broke up. It leads Peter to feel tremendous doubt about his ability to be happy without his ex Genevieve, but it takes his imagination playing tricks on him to realize that. There's even a somewhat intriguing twist at the end of the issue that mostly makes sense within the context of the issue. The aspiring screenwriter in Peter romanticizes his former relationship to some extent, with the script overall feeling like something of a romantic comedy that even Genevieve herself says Peter would be great at writing.

The black and white art with a pale green hue is very appropriate for the subject matter. Zahler makes the book feel exactly like what it is: a confused writer dealing with a project image of a women who broke his heart in the past. The characters are defined by bold, black lines that make sure they get all the attention in the book--and rightfully so. Character designs feel a lot like something you'd see in Archie as well, which offers a bit of levity to the otherwise intense, emotional storyline. There's even a nice touch with the some the dialogue boxes resembling screenplay style and direction, reminding the reader they're reading a story within a story so to speak.

Haunted #1 is interesting because it literally puts a face to an emotion that stays with many: lost love. Peter is trying to move on romantically from Genevieve, but there are parts of him that still wants to be with her; parts that could jeopardize his happiness in the present. Zahler's dialogue is pretty snappy and moves the story along at a comfortable pace, while his illustrations remind the reader that there is some humor to be found in the situation. Haunted #1 is a pretty light read that doesn't require much of the reader, but it resonates in a way that few books do honestly.

Haunted #1 is available now via Comixology.