You know, cross medium adaptations don’t all have to be bad.

There have been good movies based on comics (and…video games. I think.) And likewise, there have been good comics written about franchises in other mediums as well. Cross media merchandising and licensing can lead to not only great financial success, but also to some decent entertainment too. So when I heard good things about Silent Hill: Dying Inside a long while ago, I decided to pick it up for reading material on my way to Illinois for a funeral. I was in the right place for this sort of thing, I guess.

It didn’t hurt that I was a huge fan of Silent Hill. Those games (well, some of them anyway) still stand as a testament to not only true survival terror (something that Resident Evil never did for me), but as what original ideas can do both for the genre of horror and the medium of gaming. There was something else these games did really well also, but I’ll get to that when it becomes relevant.

All in all, Silent Hill stood as something unique and great, so it seemed natural that other mediums would try to make that trip into the twisted town of guilty fears with comics and movies. And one such foray was a comic miniseries called Dying Inside, which I picked up in its shiny trade paperback edition. It looked cool, the concept seemed great, and they had some big named artists like Ben Templesmith (who was no stranger to horror) on to do work for it. It was a surefire winner, right? Well, no. Not really. At all.

Cover

Summary: Dying Inside’s first two chapters are concerned with a young woman named Lynn and her therapist, Troy Abernathy. She suffered through some horrible things in Silent Hill, escaped, and is scarred deeply for it. Now Troy has seen fit to take her back there to deal with the trauma, not knowing what Silent Hill is. As soon as he arrives, he is confronted by the horrors of his past, including his dead wife who killed herself because he killed her abusive ex-boyfriend (convoluted a bit, I know). It is shortly after that they are confronted by Christabella, the little girl apparition whom Lynn was tortured by before and who will be our de facto villain for the course of the story. And she’s got quite the mouth, sort of like she’s the product of Freddy Kreuger and The Collector.

What Nightmares Are Made Of

Christabella is pissed that Lynn “brought the wrong one back”, so she decides to kill them both. Before she can, Troy offers “his soul” to her in exchange for Lynn’s life, and she agrees, allowing Lynn to go (making Lynn the second person to enter a nightmarish Silent Hill and leave twice). She then looks up at the sky and goads someone, which turn out to be a group of goth kids watching this all on a TV. One of them reveals the fact that this is a year old tape that seems to keep changing, and their leader decides dramatically that it’s time to go to Silent Hill.

Art: Where to begin. I’ve read 30 Days of Night. I know Templesmith can do better than this. It is indicative of his style to be a bit over expressive, but this is just inexcusable. There are rare moments when it adds a good sense of surrealism, but the rest of the time, it’s a jumbled mess of disproportionate heads, limbs and scattered gore. It’s downright distracting, and while the obvious intention was to immerse you in the horror of Silent Hill, it does just the opposite. There is really only one thing I liked, and that was the good continuity with the story about how the wall writings keep changing.

Writing: You know, as much as I dislike the Art, the writing can be just as flawed. Not to necessarily say that Scott Ciencin is a terrible writer, he’s just terrible at writing in this universe. Remember Christabella? She’s one of the biggest issues with the comic, not because she’s a bad villain, don’t get me wrong, she’s a great horror villain, but her problem is just that. She’s meant for gory, standard horror settings, and it shows. Silent Hill is not about overt terror, it is about subtlety. Which is why there may be minor seemingly villainous characters, but overall, the true enemy is the town itself. It is the very atmosphere in which you dwell. And having little miss gab-a-lot spout off admittedly hilarious one-liners every two seconds really puts you into the wrong head space. I’ll get more into this with chapter 3-5, but there is so much wrong with the way this is written in regards to Silent Hill. Not because it deviates from any particular story, but because it is in outright defiance of what Silent Hill is all about.

Overall: By now, you have probably realized that I dislike the rest of the chapters, and you’re right. But you know what the crazy thing is? I really liked this book when I first read it a few years ago. I thought it was cool and interesting, mainly because I was so happy to revisit my favorite horror setting. And apparently I wasn’t the only one, because the thing obviously sold well enough to warrant a trade publication.

Then I read it again about 6 months ago. And I couldn’t believe I had spent 20 bucks on it. Perhaps this was in light of more recent Silent Hill titles with similar problems, but I had realized something inherently wrong with the very concept.

But that will have to wait until next week…

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