I’ve always liked the idea of the paranormal world, even if the possibility of it existing scares the ever-loving crap out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea that someone needs to travel the world, putting the souls of the dearly departed to rest before they flip out and rearrange the furniture in your living room or something, but I don’t think I’d be nearly as keen on the idea if, say, they rearranged my apartment or murdered me in my sleep or something. Tessa Stone’s bizarrely named comic, Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name, shows us a bit of a lighter glimpse of the paranormal world, as told by a very reliable zombie.
Hanna Falk Cross is a paranormal investigator who seems to have a girl’s name for some reason. At the start of the comic, Hanna is 24 years old, living in a dinky slum of an apartment, running a somewhat sketchy paranormal investigator business out of his home. Hanna is a bit on the energetic side of things, using more of a leap-first-think-later approach in his investigations. His tools of the trade are a hammer with a rune on it and a marker. What he doesn’t have in professionalism or talent he makes up for in, uh, eagerness.
He is not the main character.
A zombie visits Hanna one night. This zombie is tall, polite and very green. Oh, and he doesn’t remember a damn thing about life, including his name. After spending an initial ten years contemplating life and death, he grew a bit bored and decided to go looking for a job. But zombies probably aren’t going to get too many call backs from traditional retail, so paranormal investigating alongside Hanna is probably the best way to go. Ever energetic, Hanna takes his new companion on immediately, and spends most of the comic throwing a slew of names at him to see if one will stick.
The two then embark on a series of paranormal investigations with varying degrees of… failure, I guess. Success is such a relative word when talking about the paranormal. The zombie is our narrator for the entire ride, delivering thoughts and observations to us in nicely packaged monologue boxes scattered around the comic in a hilariously disconnected deadpan tone, which tends to offset whatever insanity Hanna has managed to dig up. He’s like a very reliable and marginally more useful version of Watson, if Sherlock Holmes was on cocaine instead of opium.
Steadily, over the next few chapters, Stone introduces more characters, from the whiny wuss Conrad to the pointy toothed Veser, and the shady Doc Worth. Seriously, I think if there was an award for “sketchiest doctor in webcomics,” Doc Worth would win it by a landslide. He’s the kind of character that makes you want to avoid going to the doctor, lock yourself in the bathroom and then take a hideously long shower until you feel clean again.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about this comic. There was maybe one point in the story that kind of abruptly jumped to a point some time in the future that left me a bit confused, but other than that I have no real complaints. This isn’t a comic to jump to, however, if you don’t want to read the entire archives. Each comic builds on the one before it, and if you jump halfway into the story you’re not going to have any friggin’ idea what’s going on. Also, some of the action sequences can be a little hard to follow at times, but you quickly learn to look very closely at the panels, unless you’re okay with missing something important.
The character design is solid, the artwork fits the subject matter well, and the writing manages to develop a story about excessively creepy topics without actually coming across as incredibly creepy. Stone herself refers to the story as a “sugarcoated horror,” which is a phrase that fits the subject matter well. The stories would be actually pretty creepy, if they weren’t so damn funny.
What really sold me on this comic was the panel layout. This is one of the few comics I’ve seen on the internet that isn’t afraid to take the standard edition four wall panels and twist them about a bit. It creates a very unique feel for the comic, and I really think that’s what got my interest when I first found Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name by following a link in a link in a link a few days ago.
The comic is still somewhat in its early stages, so reading the archives won’t take a week just yet. There’s no actual update schedule, but Stone said she updates on a when-the-page-is-done basis. That being said, she also said she tries for an update every day, though that can be sometimes impossible. Real life can be tricky like that.
But the biggest mystery in Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name is Hanna himself. Seriously, what’s that guy’s deal?
Because I’m having trouble figuring out the new way to put links into stories on WordPress, you should probably just type this into your browser to find the comic: http://hanna.aftertorque.com/
Filed under: Comics | Tagged: Conrad, Doc Worth, ghosts, Hanna, Hanna is Not a Boy's Name, horror, panel layput, paranormal, paranormal investigator, sporadic updates, sugarcoated horror, Tessa Stone, zombie |