Sunday, March 19, 2017

Daniel: A Grave Tale of Horror

Ladies and Gentlemen!
Today, I present you a grave tale of horror!
The story of Daniel!

Are you gonna mop that up, Daniel?

Daniel, created by Sara Nelson, is set in 1934 and is a story about the titular character, Daniel, his crush, Christine, her family, and potential rival,Wayne. Daniel is mild-mannered, introverted, and awkward, but after an encounter with Wayne, events take a bad turn for Danny-boy, who finds himself among the undead. Turned into a vampire. How? You'll have to read to find out. Over the course of the nine chapters (it's not completed yet) we're presented with an intimate look at Daniel and Christine's encounters after his transformation and slowly unravel the mystery behind him.




I tend to like intimate stories like this one. It's focused almost entirely between Daniel and Chrissy. Epic adventures are fun, but I get lost with the sea of characters and their motivations. This story begins with a cute romantic moment and a lot of awkwardness and stuttering by Daniel, which I found that mildly annoying after a while, but as the story unfolds, Daniel becomes unhinged in latter chapters as he seeks vengeance against Wayne and lusts after Chrissy's blood.

I thought Sarah handled Daniel's transformation from shy and introverted to unhinged pretty well. The chapters are long and the pacing a bit slow, but it's enough time to really settle in and have nuanced moments with Daniel. It's those moments that give us the gradual progression into the darker chapters later in the story, and they do get pretty dark so if you're squeamish when it comes to blood and gore you may want to skip it.


I dig the black and white look of Daniel. It's set in 1934 and the black and white gives it that old-timey charm.

The characters are really well drawn. They show a good sense of proportion. The clothing is detailed and looks from the era. Everything is cleanly inked and softly shaded. The character expressions are exaggerated but help sell a lot of the emotion. I like the eyes in particular where we can see a lot of the fear and craziness come through in later chapters.



One of my qualms about the art in Daniel is the backgrounds in the panels. Yes, they're rendered nicely in black and white but they appear sterile.

Where are all of the people in these backgrounds? Even one or two would help sell the illusion of human presence otherwise it looks like a ghost town. Now, maybe that adds to the horror of it, but my initial reaction was the stage felt devoid of life. I don't know if these are 3D models, but they give me the feeling they are mostly barebone 3D models traced-over and textured. It's not a bad job by any means. The texturing fits the perspective and and line work is really good, but the building facades look flat and too perfect. Some bumps on the building silhouette could help show the unevenness of the brick, plaster, or concrete. The windows and doors could be deeper inset to show thickness as well.

I also notice some issues with building proportions and perspective issues. Whereas the character proportions look decent, the windows, door frames, and various aspects of the buildings don't seem to be proportioned well. The windows of the house (above) and in the previous perspective example appear too wide.

Anime artist Thomas Romain has some great tips for drawing buildings in perspective, which you can read here on Kotaku (or find on his twitter account).

The first example talks about building proportions. There are more tips in the article on Kotaku.

Here's a tutorial on constructing a building using a flat image manipulated into the perspective using Photoshop's transformation tool.

Word Bubbles

Another small nitpick I had was with the word bubbles. The words are arranged in a square and then circled with a word balloon, but it leaves uneven spaces around the dialogue and the bubble. The letters come close to the edge of the bubble in this case. The word bubble carrots appear too thick and in a few instances I saw them implicitly criss-crossing over one another. It's not a big deal. I was able to figure out which character was speaking, but these are minor things that could be fixed in future pages to make a great presentation even better.


Daniel's a story that unveils its mystery and insanity over time. It's well drawn and an enjoyable, intimate, and at times a deeply unsettling and an uncomfortable horror story.

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