Riven is an excellent graphic novel perfect for fans of the horror genre as well as run-of-the-mill comic readers. This is a perfect example of the kind of horror story that writers and directors should be writing today. So many of the horror books and films today overdo the gore and slashing, amplify the gross and repugnant, and exaggerate needless sex. However, Robert Tinnell and Bo Hampton do the opposite: they add these elements tastefully and with style. I believe there is a formula for the perfect horror story, and these two craft an engaging and horrifying tale that hits the nail on the head.
First, Tinnell knows his horror. As a fan of the genre myself, I was so pleased to see a horror story with some depth. Readers can relate to the story's rich characters. Their dialogue is real and their problems all too tangible. Furthermore, as a fan of the Canadian Ginger Snaps films, I took an instant liking to Katya, Riven's youthful protagonist. Tinnell tampers with the ideas of female sexuality and development along with the werewolf transformation process and casts them as a metaphor for growing up. However, though Katya and Ginger both undergo hormonal changes as well as wolf-like urges, Riven goes where Ginger Snaps doesn't: Tinnell explores the "werewolf" genre from a traditional standpoint, staying true to the lore and elements that make a werewolf story a werewolf story but, while making it so much more. It's really the story of a girl finding her way and discovering the sort of person she wants to be.
Next, Hampton's artwork is absolutely stunning. I found myself asking why this guy isn't doing work for DC or Marvel. His artwork is amazing. Period.
Hampton knows how to capture a mood. His style invokes that distinct horror-esque atmosphere that you see in the movies: the calm fall surroundings and the Autumn like settings that sweep you in and make you feel safe. But there is something there among the trees and auburn leaves, something monstrous and chilling, elements that his gothic artistry bring forth. Furthermore, Hampton's artwork embellishes the essence of illustrative comic art, while maintaining that almost Romantic aesthetic that authors like Washington Irving thrive on to describe and enrich their stories. Speaking of Irving, one should definitely check out Hampton's Legend of Sleepy Hollow graphic novel. I cannot praise Hampton's artwork enough! Again, I think he should do artwork for DC or Marvel. I for one would love to see his take on super heroes and strongly feel he could bring something unique and different to the genre.
Riven is truly a masterpiece in graphic/illustrative horror, my personal favorite of Tinnell and Hampton's collaborations. Hampton's art meshed with Tinnell's writing makes a cinematic masterpiece that not only has scares and thrills, but has heart. These guys could give the Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman a run for his money!
Just an all around great book! I hope to see more from these guys!