As a writer myself, I’m always fascinated by stories that are rich with character, and come from a place of passion. That’s what I saw today when I went to Kickstarter to discover a new project I could write a review on. Curse of El Cucuy by Craig Phillips is a project with massive potential to be something both very wholesome and filled with horror at the same time; which is a rare mix to get right. It’s a horror graphic novel, as I’ve implied, and the campaign is to fund the first volume. I love everything about this project – from the art, to the story and the characters, and even right down to the very informative and immersive Kickstarter campaign video (amongst the best ones I’ve seen in my reviews, if not a little amateur.)
The story revolves around ‘whipsmart’ teen Rita Flores who discovers that the Latin Boogeyman – El Cucuy, is terrifyingly real and tormenting the people of this bordertown she’s recently moved into with her father. On the outside it sounds like the premise for a children’s animated series, but it really isn’t. There’s something really surreal about the story and the art that fills the pages, it has this real gritty hand-drawn feel about it where the characters feel just a little further back from the panel, as if you’re seeing them from the distance. I love the story that’s fuelling this project, and really that’s what you should look at the most when you’re investing in graphic novels on Kickstarter, it’s unique and it gives a great insight into another culture’s myths. Keeping in mind that this is a horror story, true and true, but mix that in with a coming of age narrative and I think you get something really special.
The story isn’t the only part of this project to tune into though, there’s also a matter of the characters, who all seem to have their own definitions and traits that really make them unique and compelling. None more so than Rita Flores (she is the MC), who has moved to the hometown of her mother with her father, after her mother died, which will no doubt incite a lot of growth for Rita as we follow her through this journey and she fights a literal Boogeyman. Rita is a young girl and the only one trying to stop this Latin Boogeyman, which I have no doubt will have correlations to the death of her mother. The prospect for an emotional ride is really high with this one!
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t talk about some of the influences that are coming across as well, mostly with Latin culture. Craig Phillips claims on the campaign page that he wants to use this project to ‘telling a gripping story that also uses Latin American folklore as a way to bridge communities in the United States.’ He’s taking a story from another culture and giving it to a whole new audience of readers, which is awesome and a great example of where a comic book narrative, or any kind of narrative really, can go and what it can do to help people understand other people. Which is great to see. I really like projects that try to break down boundaries between different cultures and teach respect, and a project like this is coming in at just the right time and there’s probably a good few people that could do with this on their shelf.
I can’t leave though without voicing a few of my concerns about the project though, as much as I like it. The whole thing feels like it needs a little more time in development, like another six months at least, before it should be brought before the backers. Craig Phillips admits in his promotional video that he hasn’t written the whole of volume one, and although he’s written the screenplay, I know that adapting one to the other in any direction isn’t as easy as one, two, three. The art, although awesome, also feels like it could spent a bit more time in the oven before we dig in, I really like the direction it’s going, but the fact that we see so little of it on the Kickstarter page tells me there’s not enough of it to start promoting like this — the images we do see are a far-cry from what we should be seeing, their small and can’t possibly represent a page.
All in all though, I’d say go and invest and see what happens if you have a few spare bucks. There’s a really good chance that you’ll get a great comic out of it that’ll be full of surprises and ready to go. The Curse of El Cucuy will definitely take a prime spot in my comic book collection if it can get the balance between horror and wholesome right, and if it can get past this ill-prepared feel that’s plaguing it. You can check out the campaign page below, go and check it out for yourself!