The level of imagination and skill that went into Lucas is not only impressive, but enough to put David Murdoch at the forefront of all horror graphic novel collectors’ minds. The book started off as a crossbreed art-book that amassed the work of numerous illustrators to tell one horrific tale of terror. “Lucas” quickly transformed into a short horror narrative that’s more novel than graphic. Murdoch boldly takes on the roles of creator, writer, illustrator, and colourist for “Lucas”. Finding a home with Arcana Studio, Murdoch’s story is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Dexter. Only, this killer of killers is just as terrifying and psychotic as the family of cannibalistic sadists he destroys.
WRITTEN BY: David Murdoch
ART BY: David Murdoch
COVER BY: Sukhbir Purewal
“Lucas” is not a conventional graphic novel by any means. As previously mentioned, it’s more novel than graphic. The story is heavily worded with violently descriptive passages. But the fact that Murdoch focuses on the narrative is what really sells this book. Yes, his stylistically nightmarish, unnerving, and sometimes ambiguous, artwork enhances his writing in the most extreme and beautifully disturbing ways; but there’s no doubt that this piece of writing can stand on its own.
The plot is straightforward, and it is forecast in a film script-esque style of writing, which is used to describe the isolated setting of a murder. This is how “Lucas” opens. With Murdoch’s illustration of the house of horrors, both welcoming and foreboding in appearance, located in the middle of NowheresVille, USA. There’s screaming, sobbing, silence, then ominous laughter. But what may seem like a typical tragedy that befalls a group of doomed college kids, turns into an account of the horrors that befall their sadist captors. Murdoch takes something cliché and offers his readers a fresh take on the “horror of the family” subgenre by completely flipping that premise on its head.
The illustrations of the family of sociopaths are aggressive and raw, and disturb the shit out of me with powerful intent. Grandma is of particular note, or, the “corpse”, as she is described; a chair-bound old woman whose eye-sockets produce an indescribable smell after her eyes apparently “fell out” of them… lovely. Or take Jeremy, her morbidly obese, bearded, pig of a grandson who’s been rendered incompetent due to his weight. Imagine an evil feral Santa Clause with a ventilator up his nose. His dimwitted, though huge and powerful, brother Ben; a soulless psychopath whose masked appearance takes after Leatherface and Michael Myers. Their Mama, the epitome of the all-American house-wife in a flowery dress; only instead of baking cookies she’s serving up a bowl of human stew. And finally, there’s Jeb, or “Daddy”, as they call him. The limp-legged, sadistic inbred who runs this whole operation.
This disgusting family is one of the best examples of the “horror of the family” subgenre, which takes the typical nuclear family and examines their dark side by perverting them to horrific effect. But even with that same foundation, he manages to make this story completely refreshing with the addition of Lucas.
Lucas is introduced through the catastrophic outcome of “the family” being usurped by his mere presence as he routinely, and brutally, picks them off, one by one. A stealthy man, even though he’s a hulking 310 pound giant, whose weapon of choice is a brute sword seemingly made out of car parts. Terrifying and absolute in his drive to kill, he has no other reason to exist. He is completely unyielding and determined in his mission of slaughter. “The Family” have no idea who he is, but he seems to know them. “This night was set in motion a long time ago.” Those are the words printed on paper as Lucas murders Jeb, the first of the family members to realize that they aren’t, in fact, God. Many readers will be rooting for him to murder the cannibalistic sadists. He’s a psychopathic killer who murders other psychopathic killers. Does that make him a hero? Definitely not. But he’s certainly the lesser of both evils. I suppose that’s good enough for now… Or until Arcana decides to publish 4 of the follow-up stories already written for “Lucas”, so readers can finally understand the subtle hints to his background story revealed in this book.
David Murdoch’s “Lucas” is deeply disturbing. After all, the best novels and films in the horror genre don’t exist to just frighten us, but to explore the darker urges, taboos, fears, and repressed human desires found in people, and then purging them from our subconscious thoughts. This graphic novel brings about a brutal truth: that unfathomable evil simply exists in our world, overpowering our ability to battle or understand it. At least, not like Lucas can.
Reviewed by -ShadowJayd