Continuing my graphic novel mood, I rediscovered some old favourites, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed delving into again. The Strangehaven series are wonderfully quirky and dark, and right up my street. If you like The League of Gentlemen, or the novels of Phil Rickman, or the philosophy of Dion Fortune, or dramas that suddenly twist unnervingly from mundane reality to disturbing psychological, possibly supernatural, horror, then Strangehaven is for you!
School teacher Alex Hunter is driving through the countryside when a girl suddenly appears in the middle of the road. He swerves to avoid her and crashes. When he regains consciousness, he is being looked after by the local doctor in the village of Strangehaven – and there is no sign of the girl. Recovering slowly, he discovers that Strangehaven isn’t easy to leave, not just because of the warm quirkiness of the locals, but because all roads seem to lead back to the village. And as he starts to integrate with the community, he discovers that dark secrets lurk under the picture postcard perfection of this little English village.
Adultery, murder, addiction, insanity – all human life is here. Among the usual villagers with secrets, there’s Adam, who is convinced he’s an alien, and Megaron, an Amazonian Indian shaman.The local police officer, Sergeant Clarke, is somewhat shady. There’s Janey, young and innocent, who has the hots for Alex, and her friend Suzie, whose love life is getting dangerous. Oh, and there’s Janey’s dad, John, the local Headteacher who is also head of a secret society called Knights of the Golden Light…. As lives intertwine, the connections between the characters are slowly revealed, and the plot just gets darker and darker…
The illustrations storyboard the drama perfectly, and are realist in style. They focus on character, so you really feel like you know this odd bunch. The third volume ends on a cliffhanger, but fortunately, if you start this series now you won’t have to wait forever for the final volume. Volume three was published in 2005, but Millidge is currently releasing new installments after a ten-year break – see his blog for up-to-date information. Can’t wait!!
Surreal, “quintessentially British”, and intelligent, you don’t have to be a graphic novel fan to enjoy these – they are excellent stories and well worth a few hours of your time.
Strangehaven: Arcadia, Abiogenesis Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0946790043
Strangehaven: Brotherhood, Abiogenesis Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0946790050
Strangehaven: Conspiracies, Abiogenesis Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0946790074