Callum’s Webcomic Corner
By Callum Waterhouse ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Story By Grey Carter
Art By Cory Rydell
Have you ever wished for a comic that combined light parody of video game culture with a dash of existential horror? Well, congratulations person-with-incredibly-specific-tastes, someone has finally made a webcomic tailored to this very specific niche.
Erin Dies Alone was created for Escapist Magazine by Grey Carter and Cory Rydell. It is a spin-off of their previous title, Critical Miss, albeit set in an alternate universe and featuring few of the same characters. While Critical Miss was mostly a humor series, Erin Dies Alone delves into much darker, more character focused narrative.
The titular Erin of this comic is living a life of isolation. She has not left her apartment or seen another human being in over two years. We get hints that she used to be a bright young girl, but now she spends her days smoking marijuana and shopping online.
Erin is shaken out of this routine by the sudden arrival of Red Panda, a video game character from the 1990s and Erin’s former imaginary friend. The plucky mammal attempts to shake his friend out of her inertia by reigniting her long buried love of video games.
Videogame fans will be quick to appreciate the humor in this comic. There are jokes about old and modern games, and several of the major characters are obvious pastiches of popular videogame heroes. The first major story line consists largely of a parody of a certain popular sci-fi shooter franchise.
Like all good parody, it comes from a place of love. Carter and Rydell clearly have a lot of respect for the culture they are trying to lampoon and it gives their humor a strong bite.
Not that you need to be an avid gamer to appreciate all the jokes. Erin Dies Alone understands that great humor is born of the characters and the characters are where the real focus of this comic lies. There is warmth to each member of the cast. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Red’s mission to help Erin comes from a genuine concern for his friend, and Erin herself eventually reveals more depth than appearances would imply. Carter imbues characters as diverse as a talking panda and a genetically engineered super-soldier with a sense of humanity that makes their interactions meaningful.
Rydell’s art is, in a word, versatile. The individual panels are often without many details, but there are always just enough to capture the mood of whatever the story is trying to do. The more humorous pages are practically bursting with energy, while the art in the more somber portions of the story make you want to cry just looking at it.
And this is a very good thing, as the tone of this comic can shift on a dime. As stated above, Erin Dies Alone is often a comedy strip, but there are moments when this comic is scarier than most of what passes for horror these days. What’s worse is that the comic is scary in ways that stick with you. It is not the shocking, visceral type of horror most commonly found in horror comics, but rather a more creeping, intellectual form of horror. It is not the images but the ideas that frighten.
Red’s appearance in the real world is disconcerting enough, but from the start there are clawing signs that there is something more sinister afoot than a mere marijuana-induced hallucination. Then, there is the medication that is being delivered through Erin’s mail slot. And do not forget about the title.
The implications of these developments create a more palpable sense of fear than the zombies and serial killers present in other comics. The possibility of letting your life go by without having lived it, the possibility of being cut off from everyone and left with no one to love, these ideas are far more frightening because they are far more real. It is easy to become invested in Erin’s struggles because, if one pauses to consider it, her fate could have befallen any of us.
It is here where the appeal of Erin Dies Alone truly lies. By perpetually dangling Erin’s redemption or possible destruction in front of reader’s noses, Carter and Rydell keep readers coming back and checking for updates week after week. And you will be coming back week after week.
Will Erin rejoin the outside world? Can Red save his friend from herself, or is his very presence a sign that she is already beyond help. Erin Dies Alone updates on Mondays and Thursdays so you should check it out for yourself.