Joy San- Art in Horror

Joy San is a Canada based illustrator that I was immediately hooked on after checking out just one title (more on that soon). While she has a variety of titles from New Yorker strips, to hollistic reference, to John Wick comics, I particularly love her scarier titles. The way that her gorgeous illustrations get mashed together in some horrific and grotesque ways is consistently entertaining. Let’s get to it:

Dental Plan was the first title I had the pleasure of checking out. The cover immediately grabbed my eye and the contents within were wonderfully Junji Ito adjacent (in my opinion). A young woman is jealous of a colleague’s brilliant smile and decides that she will go through the steps to get one herself. Sounds pretty simple and tame right? Well, just wait until the cryptic ritual comes into play. The images are sparse and unlike many horror stories, Joy chooses to go lighter by only using the white of the paper under her lines, with the only color being used scarcely. This was the perfect example of a captivating done in one that pokes fun at our insecurities. You can get it here!

In what is probably the goriest of Joy’s titles that I’ve read, Exodus, a woman has a bad day that goes from bad to gross. As stressors are introduced to our protagonist, she feels an increasing need for restroom breaks. It’s clear that something is wrong, but her brain is telling her body to keep going, that is until that becomes… difficult. This story is done with what LOOKS like colored pencil and watercolors, this give the story a palpable texture that makes the mundane look vibrant and the viscera look intense. Exodus was brief but impactful, and you can read this story here.

The Island tells a tale of magic and not taking life for granted. A girl travels to a mysterious island armed with little more than a potentially magic seed from her deceased grandmother, hoping to make a wish for a life free of loneliness. As the seed begins to grow it starts to make requests and as the requests become more personal, our protagonist gets hopeful… but should she be? This book is vibrant and full of it’s own mythology. Much like the previous titles I mentioned it definitely has a horror element or two, but the tone is entirely different. It’s magical and kind of frightening and an total joy to experience. The Island was published by Shortbox and is available here.

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