Saturday, September 17, 2022

Graphic Novel: Empty Eyes

Movies about kids can be creepy, like The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned. Pretty much every film about dolls is scary (like Annabelle, for instance). Diego Agrimbau combines creepy kids with creepy dolls in the graphic novel Empty Eyes, with art by Juan Manuel Tumburus, which is now available from digital retailers.

WWI is still grinding on, but the fighting is shifting away from the Polish-Russian border. That might sound like good news for the three surviving children of the Nurk Orphanage located in that vicinity, but Ofelia and her younger brother Otto have been preying on wounded soldiers for their meat. It was not their idea. Maurice Nurk, the bullying son of the orphanage directors is the mastermind, cannibalistic butcher, and cook. Even though his parents are now decaying corpses, he maintains a psychological hold over the brother and sister.

As soon as the siblings scavenge enough “food” for the long winter, Nurk plans to kill them too. Ofelia suspects as much, but she feels bound to Nurk as his accomplice. However, Otto has this strange feeling all the eyeless dolls castoff in a closet are trying to tell him something, because they are.

Without a doubt, Tumburus conjures up some spectacularly macabre imagery in
Empty Eyes. It is almost presented as fairy tale, but it is absolutely not for young children. On the other hand, it is quite a potent anti-war war fable, for mature horror fans. There is a tragic, otherworldly logic to it all that somehow makes sense in its nightmarescape environment.

Talk about the death of innocence, but there is still an EC Comics aspect of retributive punishment to Agrimbau’s narrative.
Empty Eyes probably couldn’t be adapted as a film, because of what it makes its disturbingly young characters do. However, both the art and the story are haunting. Somehow, the WWI setting is particularly apt for this tale. Even back then, running into a pack of hungry German soldiers was a perilous proposition, even without any weird uncanny business going on. Very highly recommended, Empty Eyes is now on-sale digitally, from Europe Comics.