Don’t let the whimsically water-colored fairy world in “Beautiful Darkness” fool you; this graphic novel, out today from Drawn and Quarterly, is not a happily-ever-after sort of story.
In “Beautiful Darkness,” French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann (“Isle of 100,000 Graves”) and husband-and-wife cartooning team Kerascoët (“Miss Don’t Touch Me”) present the story of Aurora, a cheery and resourceful heroine whose tea party with a prince is interrupted by a deluge of what appears to be blood. Aurora escapes, emerging from the skull of a dead girl, along with dozens of other tiny people. In the coming days and months, they try to survive in the face of hunger, woodland animals and, most terrifyingly, their own capacity for cruelty.
It’s a twisted tale that draws from the likes of “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Borrowers,” only “Beautiful Darkness” presents a much bleaker allegory about brutality. As the tiny people lose hope, their underlying pettiness, greed and jealousy become evident despite their polite words and pretty faces.
Hero Complex readers get an exclusive preview at several pages from the 96-page hardcover, chronicling the characters’ search for food as hunger starts to set in. Check out the pages in the gallery or the links above, and let us know what you think in the comments