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Review: The 'Sleepy Hollow' comic is a fun, focused horror story

Published December 15, 2014 11:34 am

Comics • While light on cast or world-building, the comic's unbridled budget and dynamic color palette enliven brisk stories.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While "Sleepy Hollow" takes a mid-season Christmas break, a hungry fan might wonder where to satiate an appetite for odd-couple adventures against the forces of darkness.

Fear not: comics publisher Boom! Studios has you covered. The third issue of its licensed "Sleepy Hollow" comic book hits the stands Dec. 24, and if it's anything like the first two installments, it's a fun, familiar ride that might be light on mythology, but doesn't want for thrills.

The supernatural escapades of a time-displaced Ichabod Crane and officer Abbie Mills already feel like a comic book translated to the small screen. Abbie's sheriff's captain even pointed out in the pilot how very "Captain America" Ichabod's story seems, with the Colonial-era hero waking up in the 21st Century after an enchanted hibernation. So how does FOX's primetime horror story translate to the sequential medium that it endearingly resembles?



For the most part, with the charm and bombast fans tune in for week after week.

To the series' benefit, writer Marguerite Bennett concentrates on Ichabod and Abbie, and resists the temptation to trot through as many corners, spiritual dimensions and eras of Sleepy Hollow as she can within the 22 pages she's allotted per issue. The heroes have their witchy first story to themselves, and only briefly share their second issue's outing against an evil tree with supporting characters.

Fans might feel the absence of Colonial America flashbacks and the broader cast of Moloch, Andy, Hessians, the Horseman and Henry, who literally phones in a cameo. Then there's Katrina who, much like in the show, appears only momentarily to deliver exposition and a dire warning. But Bennett's focused narrative keeps "Sleepy Hollow" light on its feet, while still giving the duo who make up the warm heart of the series' mythos time to breathe, quip and connect.

And while Bennett provides the right voice to the mannered Ichabod and bemused Abbie, artist Jorge Coelho captures their world with the eye of a fan. He and colorist Tamra Bonvillain shade the panels with thick, inky lines and cross-hatching, so that deep shadows are constantly and fittingly lurking in and around the cursed citizens of Sleepy Hollow. At the same time, Bonvillain fills out the rest of the pages with alternating atmospheric and bombastic color palettes that capture the story's dual-tone, and enliven the comic with an energy both vibrant and authentic.

Speaking of bombastic, as a comic, "Sleepy Hollow" enjoys an infinite "budget" that frees Bennett and Coelho to pull off bigger, louder set-pieces than the show's limited resources can often achieve. In the same issue, a dump truck flips over-end and crashes in a fiery wreck, and a lightning bolt electrocutes a coven of undead witches in the Hudson River. Even when the action dials down in the second issue (a haunted tree doesn't exactly scream blockbuster), Bonvillain's bold coloring heightens the excitement to a surreal level beyond the reach of the show's realism.

After the dust settles on another victory against evil, don't skip writer/artist Noelle Stevenson's two-page back-up stories at the end of each issue. The up-and-coming comics star distills the very best of "Sleepy Hollow" — Ichabod's bewilderment, his friendship with Abbie and the dark yet delightful non-sequitors that fill their lives — into light post-scripts that make you wish she could headline a tie-in of her own. (If you enjoy her humor, you might like the on-going series she co-writes, "Lumberjanes.")

You might find issues of "Sleepy Hollow" at your local comic book store, or you can buy a digital copy through boom-studios.com. "Sleepy Hollow" is only scheduled to run for four issues, which means its mid-January installment marks the comic's conclusion. At least by then, "Sleepy Hollow" the show will be back from its winter hiatus.

— Michael McFall

Twitter: @mikeypanda

 

 

 

 

 

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