The Me You Love In the Dark #1 Effectively Captures Artist's Block in a Haunting Tale
Hannah Rose
Love can be a scary thing. It lurks in the shadows, unseen and unpredictable -- not unlike ghosts. Published by Image Comics, The Me You Love in the Dark further examines the connection between love and horror. Written by Middlewest writer Skottie Young and drawn by artist Jorge Corona, The Me You Love in the Dark #1 combines elements of Gothic horror and romance with one artist's struggle to find her muse amidst self-imposed isolation.
The new Image Comics series follows a professional painter named Ro, who is suffering from a creative block. With her reputation and career on the line, and desperate to regain her spark, she whisks herself away to live alone in a house rumored to be haunted. Surrounded by rotting wood, cobwebs, and darkness, Ro tries -- and fails -- to paint. All the while, Ro is begging the ghost, half-jokingly, to help her. The issue teases that she might get exactly what she wants.
Ro's is depicted by Corona with an immediate element of coolness -- sleek hair, hip glasses -- which pairs well with her written vulnerabilities. Her frustration and self-loathing quickly emerges on the page as she forces herself to paint despite feeling no inspiration. Her story is relatable, with many in the creative field instantly able to sympathize with her struggle to regain her drive to paint. Her frazzled, sarcastic one-sided conversations with her supernatural roommate are also fun to read and add an eccentric charm to her otherwise cool and aloof character. The ghost story premise is also compelling and has a lot to offer plot-wise, with the ghost's character being written with surprising nuance.
This doesn't mean that The Me You Love in the Dark is flawless. While its premise is clear from the get-go, the events that follow are a bit predictable. Ro's burgeoning relationship with the spirit and the new house she lives in aren't necessarily cliché but it isn't wholly original either. There are hints of thematic darkness throughout, leaving the ghost's nature ambiguous and its apparent friendly, quirky nature up for question. Subtle implications of evil are far outweighed by the slow, careful quietness of the plot. While the story has a tame beginning, there's a lot of potential for the next issues of the series to become twisted.
Young's naturalistic dialogue works well with his carefully paced story. The negative space and tense silences within the seemingly haunted house create a haunting atmosphere while capturing Ro's relatable frustration. Corona's art complements the grounded spookiness of the atmosphere by using jagged black placements to convey Ro's unfocused art and the dilapidated haunted house. However, these visual cues can give away too much and ruin the suspense that the dialogue and the artwork's oppressive darkness are trying to build.
The Me You Love in the Dark starts off strong with its tone, balancing Gothic horror elements with subtle human vulnerability. While the issue closes rather sweetly, there is still a lingering tone of suspense lingering, implying that Ro's supernatural encounter is not guaranteed to be a rousing success or without its sinister consequences. Although its story focuses too much on telling audiences what to come (as opposed to showing it), what it has to tell is so charming that it's worth keeping an eye on for future issues to see where the story goes.