Everyone loves a good mystery. And better yet if they are unsolved, include murder and/or conspiracy theories. Unknown Origins and Untimely Ends is 192 pages of just that, as told by 30 indie cartoonists. The anthology, which was expertly edited by contributor Emi Gennis, is split into 2 sections: Unknown Origins, which covers non-fiction unsolved mysteries and Untimely Ends, which cover unresolved, non-fiction tales of murder. Each cartoonist approached the task from a different narrative angle, some purely factual, others told more through character dialog. The result is a string of intriguing and often creepy stories that’s hard to put down once the general mood of paranoia has set in… The following are some highlights of my favorites.
Jerome by Nick Souček & Simon Moreton is the story of an unidentifiable man discovered on the beach of Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia in 1863 who was found with both legs cut off to stumps. The story is told with a minimal text and complemented with open and dreamy illustration work which matches perfectly with the unknown nature of the story.
Aokigahara Forest by Jenn Woodall details the legend of a forest at the base of Mount Fugi which has the reputation of being the most popular place in Japan to commit suicide. The result of this self-destruction is all kinds of spooky and unexplainable paranormal activity experienced by anyone who enters the forest. The story is told by following a young girl as she makes her way into the forest and discovers the remnants of past suicides while encountering many of these abnormal experiences.
One of the most playful and humorous stories in the anthology is The Axeman of New Orleans by Doug Slack. It’s a first-person narrative telling the story of how an axe-wielding serial killer terrorized New Orleans from 1918 to 1919. The killer is portrayed as an arrogant, evil man with a sick sense of humor who murders for sport. The darkness of the subject matter is rendered elegantly with a heavy inking style that depicts the scenes of violence in gruesome noir fashion.
Other highlights include a playful look at Rasputin as told by Lizz Luney, The Mary Celeste by Sam Alden, The Voynich Manuscript by Julia Gfrörer, Marfa Mystery Lights by William Cardini, Meat Shower by Noah Van Sciver and Deuteronomy 21 by Box Brown. But honestly, there isn’t a story here that disappoints.
Images via www.emigennis.com.