PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

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.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.