Words: Tim Seely
Art: Ilias Kryiazis
Regrets, we all have them. Whether it’s a typo noticed too late on a work email, a spoonful of salt in a cup of tea instead of sugar or a morning wasted trying to think of a third example for a throwaway bit at the start of a review, we all have things we wish we could go back and change. But what if you could go back and fix those mistakes? What if you could ensure you had the future you always dreamed of? And how much would you be willing to sacrifice to get it?
These questions form the themes of the horror comic Chronophage, by Tim Seeley and Ilias Kyriazis.
Chloe is a single mother, working multiple jobs to support a daughter who she struggles to connect with. Her life is hard and a far cry from her dream of being a fashion designer. However, things begin to change when she meets Heath, a charming but enigmatic travelling salesman, and the two begin a relationship.
After this, things start to fall in place for Chloe like never before, almost like time itself is changing to suit her. However, it isn’t all sunshine and Czech heavy metal for her though, as Chloe finds herself haunted by the ghost of a best friend she never met.
Pulling on this thread, Chloe begins to realize that more and more events in her life don’t add up and that Heath might not be what he seems (which is to be expected. I mean, is it ever the case that the mysterious stranger who can’t tell you anything about his job or backstory just turns out to be bad at describing things?).
Chronophage is a book that can take some getting used to. Due to the nature of the story, by which I mean “timey wimey gubbins”, it’s easy to get confused during the initial chapters as it cuts around seemingly unconnected events and shows scenes that seem to contradict each other. However, it is worth sticking with. Seeley manages to write a great sense of escalating tension and rereading those first parts with more knowledge of what’s going on and how it all fits together is incredibly satisfying.
Seeley also manages to infuse the story with a lot of heart, particularly with the relationship between Chloe and her daughter Kai. The two clearly love each other, but the book doesn’t shy away from the idea that love doesn’t necessarily exclude resentment. It gives the book a strong emotional core and means that the horror moments hit all the harder.
Speaking of horror, Kyriazis does some stellar work on art. His character designs are solid and have a nice fluidity of movement to them, but he really shines towards the back half of the book, especially when the Chronophage itself is unveiled. Cosmic Horror can be a hard thing to portray, but Kyriazis manages to create something absolutely monstrous, that really does seem like it just could not exist inside of our reality.
Chronophage is a story that manages to nail what makes a great horror, merging high concept sci-fi and mind-bending visuals with a story that is ultimately very personal and human. It’s definitely worth checking out.