Silent Hill: Dying Inside
by Scott Ciencin, Ben Templesmith, Aadi Salman (IDW, 2004)

I've never played the Silent Hill video games. When I first opened Silent Hill: Dying Inside (the first volume in the graphic novel series, later collected by IDW in the Silent Hill Omnibus), I wasn't even aware the video game existed.

It doesn't matter. In a world where books become movies, movies become video games and video games become comic books, one ceases to expect too much originality. And yet, I continue to hope against hope that the artistic creators behind these derivative works have something fresh and interesting to say. Without question, these works should be able to stand on their own without too much reliance on other media.

I suppose Dying Inside succeeds in the latter test since, so far as I can tell, fans of the game don't think book and game are related very much at all. So at least it stands on its own two feet. And yet, I couldn't help feeling the book is largely an incomprehensible mess, and perhaps I was missing some vital facts that would have helped it make sense.

The story by Scott Ciencin is in two parts. The first involves Troy Abernathy, a famous but burned out psychotherapist, who takes on the case of Lynn DeAngelis, a deeply disturbed young woman. Sensing that her troubles relate to some experience in the town of Silent Hill, he resolves to take her there to confront her fears. Idiot. He might have wanted to check out a tourguide or something before setting foot in that town, which doesn't seem to have many amenities for tourists but does have its share of weird monsters and reincarnated dead people.

The second part of the story gives us a gang of wanna-be filmmakers who believe they can make money off the town's inherent weirdness. However, Lauryn, the leader of the gang, has ulterior motives, and she is willing to sacrifice her friends to achieve her ends -- which involve her dead sister Christabella in some fashion, but Ciencin never really connects the dots in a way that make sense.

The book is further hindered by dreadful art. Ben Templesmith, who made his name on the 30 Days of Night series with Steve Niles, seems to have only one style of illustration, and it tends to hurt the eyes. I've been a fan of his work in the past, but after a while it becomes tiresome. Templesmith needs to get a little variety into his portfolio. And Aadi Salman, who takes over for the second half of the tale, seems to worship at Templesmith's altar without adding anything new. Combined, it makes for a book full of unpleasant art, where often the reader is unable even to see what's going on.

All in all, this book is poorly done. I don't see the appeal.

review by
Tom Knapp

29 January 2011

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