A review of Dark Ivory, by Eva Hopkins and Joseph Michael Linsner
Image Comics, 2011 (originally published 2010)
by REBECCA, March 11, 2013
Ivory: dissatisfied New Jersey high schooler with a love of gothy dance clubs and a healthy fascination with the undead
Samson: Ivory’s best friend, a super responsible writer-by-night/Borders-employee-by-day and constant reality check for Ivory
Xander: Gateway drug to the vampire world
Sally: Ivory’s sympathetic grown-up friend with a vampire boyfriend, Esque
From Goodreads: “Ivory is a frustrated goth girl who escapes from her everyday world by sneaking out to dance at night. Her best friend Samson is always there to help her keep her feet on the ground. As Ivory’s club world fills with attractive, vampiric strangers, she thinks it would be so cool to be like them—until it happens. Be careful what you wish for . . .”
I found Dark Ivory at Forbidden Planet in Edinburgh when Tessa and I were there last week. I hadn’t heard of it, but I mean, a comic about a goth girl who is into vampires? Obviously I had to get it. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Ivory doesn’t get along with her family and is bored by school, so at night she takes the train to New York and dances into the wee hours at goth clubs with her friend Sally. One night, after a fight with her mother, she is dancing in her own world when she’s approached by a handsome man named Xander who gives her a private invite to an exclusive club. Distracted, as she’s walking to catch the train home, Ivory comes across a girl whose neck has been cut and is bleeding on the street. Ivory is terrified and runs home, thinking how it could have been her. And everything only gets creepier from there. When she goes to the exclusive club with Sally, she takes a pill and has the most vivid hallucination . . . or is it a hallucination? Is Ivory becoming a vampire? Suddenly, it doesn’t seem nearly as appealing as she might have imagined.
Dark Ivory was originally published in four issues, collected in this volume with an image gallery by artist Linsner and an introduction by author Hopkins. It is a pretty straightforward comic, and, for me, the art is the strongest element. It’s full color and very detailed, which matches the vivid subject matter really well. I love black and white work, but this story definitely needed the amplification of color, and I really appreciate Linsner’s bright palette, as opposed to the kind of stereotypically dark and limited palette that a “goth-y” comic could use. Bright purples, greens, and reds dominate here, and I especially like the use of color in the pages that show Ivory’s daily life, like this one, depicting a typical morning of Samson driving Ivory to school (what a mensch):
and this one, the recollection of Ivory and Samson’s (appropriately angsty) first meeting:
The relationship between Ivory and Samson was a really nice contrast to the supernatural elements of the book. And, while Dark Ivory is only four issues long, it manages to do a fair amount of world-building, including its own vampire mythology, even if its only gestured to. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it follows, and it enables the reader to imagine all the future adventures that Ivory will go on to have.
All in all, Dark Ivory will definitely appeal to the reader who found her own ways to escape the workaday life of high school (or dreamed of doing so) as well as to the vampire fans in the room. Ivory’s interest in goth clubs and vampires is decidedly not the depressed, searching attraction of other notable comic “goths” like Skim, in Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s excellent Skim (see my review HERE). Rather, it’s born of an active love of dancing and the aesthetics of the subculture, which makes it a joyous portrayal, despite the, erm, rather serious repercussions of Ivory’s engagement.
Always thrilled to discover a new comic!