One Punch Reviews #35: The Watcher of Yaathagggu
“Darkness reigns at the foot of the lighthouse.” — Japanese proverb
There’s something deeply mysterious about lighthouses. Part of it is the setting. They’re generally located in areas remote from town centers: up atop rocky cliffs, down windy roads, and on desolate islands — some occupied by prisoners. Their very nature recalls darkness, chilliness, and desolation. It’s no wonder that there are more than a few people who are convinced that more than a few of them are haunted.
Today’s webcomic review deals with a girl who must keep the fires burning at her lighthouse … only it’s not only the encroaching darkness she must keep at bay. In The Watcher of Yaathagggu by Robyn Seale, there are horrors that live beyond the fading edges of the lighthouse beacon lights.
Our lighthouse protects the city of Yaathagggu (three “a”‘s, three “g”‘s, and pronounced “Yah-THAG-goo”). It overlooks a murky sea which might as well be called Hentai Bay, what with all the tentacled creatures milling about in it. Not that the town itself doesn’t have a few oddities of its own. The most visible evidence of this is found, unsurprisingly, in the local sex industry.
When we start our story, Pieta Gaolwynne is staving off the glum loneliness that comes with the honor of bein a watcher. We learn that the job tends to drive people mad. One night, a fellow watcher named Matthias gets hopped up on stim-juice, hears voices, and tosses himself onto the rocky shores below. The fire at the lighthouse goes out, which, more than likely, has set off a chain of events that would drive mortal men mad. Or brings eldritch horrors into the city. During the ensuing investigation, Pieta gets pulled into questioning.
Ms. Seale’s artwork isn’t flawless. Some of the poses and facial profiles tend to look stiff and clunky. However, there are transitions to different styles that, while jarring, are quite attractive. Some of the illustrations resemble old turn-of-the-19th century posters, recalling iconic imagery from Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. It’s crisp and simple, while the coloring is muted. The pages look worn and inkstained, befitting the antiquated world of Yaathagggu.
Another stylistic change occurs when the story takes a look at instructional videos that resemble early cartoons. If I want to be honest, I think the effect was better used in the Fallout games — Yaathaggggu seems too Victorian to be relying on animated instruction sequences just yet. However, after watching the Fall Out: New Vegas trailer (which plays on similar incongruities), I have to conclude that Yaathagggu and big band jazz are perfect for juxtaposition.
While a mystery has been set up, The Watcher of Yaathagggu still has a way to go before it gets any narrative momentum going. The comic is intentionally slow and ponderous. It works sometimes: early passages dealing with Pieta’s loneliness and desperation are very effective. However, there’s little sense of what stakes are involved exactly, or why we should sympathize with Pieta as the protagonist beyond relating to her mopiness. Right now The Watcher of Yaathagggu is too ponderous, though hopefully it will be able to iron out some of the pacing issues in time.
Final Grade: 3 stars (out of 5).
Posted on October 28, 2010, in 3 Stars, gothic, horror webcomic, mystery webcomic, One Punch Reviews, The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics and tagged H.P. Lovecraft, Lovecraft. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.