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SIGHT UNSEEN
By ROBERT TINNELL, BO HAMPTON (Image; 2006)

A graphic novel that unfortunately represents another case of a good book thatís been perilously overrated. The culprits here are the critics who provided the overly ejaculatory back cover blurbs (example: ďthe best original graphic horror novel that I have ever read!Ē) and Image Comicsí packaging, which treats this flawed product as if it were WATCHMEN, presenting it in glossy hardcover format with a lengthy textual afterward detailing how the book was conceived.

     But again: SIGHT UNSEEN isnít bad. Related in somewhat compelling (if needlessly confusing) multi-character fashion, it involves a blind neuro-physicist who in an attempt at matching his dogís visual perceptions creates spectacles that allow him to see into the spirit world. Together with his bratty daughter Molly and nerdy assistant Derek (who correctly informs his boss that ďNo offense, man, but your daughterís an assholeĒ) the physicist is drawn to an old house with a dam in its backyard. Many ghosts reside in this place, and it turns out thereís a definite reason for that--as is explained in the climax, in which a most intriguing quasi-scientific rationale for the ghostly presences is unveiled, involving the houseís previous owner and the dam in its backyard.

     Seems simple enough, yet Iíve read through this thing twice and am still unclear on quite a few plot points. The scripter Robert Tinnell loves to intercut different characters and plot strands, and also includes some extremely exposition heavy flashbacks that only serve to heighten the confusion--which certainly isnít helped by the fact that the characters, as rendered by Bo Hampton, tend to all look alike! A further complaint is with the bumfart ending, which closes the book out on a thoroughly ho-hum note that places the whole thing on the level of a SCOOBY DOO episode (I was really hoping the authors would off Molly, but had no such luck).

     Itís really too bad about all the flaws, as the explanation behind the ghostly presences is, as mentioned above, quite intriguing. There are also some genuinely spooky bits of art by Mr. Hampton, who utilizes fixed focus, a cinematic technique that tends to be underutilized in the graphic novel field but is put to excellent use here, in several disquieting depictions of faraway ghosts that come into focus as they advance into the foreground.  

     

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