Anxiety and 'Adamtine' from Comics Creator Hannah Berry

The most frightening passages in Hannah Berry's second graphic novel evolve on an inexplicably stalled underground train car, where the bulk of the horror takes place.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Length: 104 pages
Writer: Hannah Berry
Graphic Novel: Adamtine
Publication Date: 2012-07-09

There's hardly a lot to go on in "Connection Lost," a new sci-fi webcomic drawn by UK comics writer and artist Hannah Berry. For a quick but intriguing three-pager built on a script by novelist James Smythe, Berry uses algae green tones and pale blues to establish an air of dread in the drafty corridors of a spacecraft. It lurches toward what appears to be a disintegrating Planet Earth when the story closes out abruptly. Berry is given far more room to shimmer in her 2012 graphic novel Adamtine, even if some questions go unanswered.

Following the perpetual rainstorms that soak the private investigator who mopes through her debut, 2010's Britten & Brülightly, Hannah Berry's Adamtine is a smaller, slimmer volume. It's a modern tale and is far more claustrophobic than Britten's somber murder mystery, which is told in the shadows of towering buildings or from directly above, as if we're monitoring restaurant meetings from light fixtures in the ceiling. The most frightening passages in Adamtine evolve on an inexplicably stalled underground train car, where the bulk of this horror story takes place. They're bookended by flashbacks and by bits of a serial killer narrative that Berry allows to simmer steadily in the background.

The details surrounding Rodney Moon's case in Adamtine are bizarre, and various figures mull the involvement of "boogeymen," "monsters," and "fiends" behind closed doors. The author teases fragments from her cast: there is talk of abduction, cryptic hand-written notes, and missing persons. "The courts believed him," argues a charity worker of Moon. "They just didn't believe him when he said they were taken by something other than human…"

What's more unnerving than an interrupted subway ride home, particularly those trips halted for reasons that go undisclosed? The typical array of obstacles that prevent trains from advancing are bad enough, but mysterious delays tend to open the floodgates on anxiety, when our only view is of the blacked-out tunnels around us. And what of the other passengers? How long until the people around you fall apart? Panic is put to artful use in Adamtine, and Berry again explores a variety of distinctive visual perspectives in her second graphic novel (within the confines of a train car, that is).

Just as Britten & Brülightly stuns in its dark city streets rendered waterways by rain, and in ornate interiors, with infrequent splashes of violet or crimson tempering its damp mood, Adamtine is also aesthetically beautiful. Scrambling for an answer to all of its questions proves maddening, but awash in a limited set of watercolors, it's all part of the book's looming menace. Peril is everywhere in Adamtine, and Berry leaves a whole lot to speculation. Good news: On a creepy, stalled train, there's nothing to do but think.

Download the first few pages of 'Adamtine' for free at Hannah Berry's site. Read 'Connection Lost' at independent reading and writing charity Booktrust.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.