T.W. Burgess’ latest graphic novel Early Haunts focuses on tales that influenced some of the most famous ghost stories. Following a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, the book is ready to be brought to the masses. The classic literature that Burgess considers are all household names, and each is given a bit of background before delving into the origins and folklore that inspired them in the form of sequential art.
There’s a global range to the tales Burgess adapts. A Greek tragedy foretells Marley’s ghost in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. An elegant Italian drama, The Death Bride, is mooted as a possible influence on the wedding scene in Shelley’s Frankenstein. Rural German story The Wild Huntsman is posited as forebear of Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Tale of Dish Mansion, an early example of J-horror is reflective of a more modern terror, The Ring, particularly with the use of a well.
The digital artwork - by Mike O’Brien, David Romero, Brian Coldrick, and Bri Neumann (with colours by Bryan Valenza on one story) - is very effective. Each story is portrayed in its own style and radiate quality. The physical edition will have an added dimension as it will incorporate frames that when viewed through the Photoghasts app will come alive. This wasn’t available for the PDF version we read, so we’d be interested in seeing how that translates. However, we imagine it’s something the reader will come back to after reading rather than breaking up an engrossing tale to reach for the phone.
There’s much to cherish in this collection of creepy stories. They are the kind of tales that linger in the mind rather than being explicitly terrifying, and thanks to the collaboration between adapter and artist, they do just that.