ADI_Feature Columns 

Don’t Miss This: “A Dark Interlude”

By | November 10th, 2022
Posted in Columns | % Comments

There are a lot of comics out there, but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we’re spotlighting “A Dark Interlude,” Ryan O’Sullivan’s sequel to “Fearscape.” This story is worth your time on the merits of writing and art alone, but the meta, helter-skelter uniqueness of the story is what pushes it to the top of our “Don’t Miss This” column.

Who’s this by?

“A Dark Interlude” is written by Ryan O’Sullivan, illustrated by Piotr Kowalski, colored by Vladimir Popov, and lettered by Andworld Design. Ryan O’Sullivan is the beating heart of this story, which is the sequel to his prior “Fearscape,” which takes place in the same world as “A Dark Interlude.” Some of Sullivan’s other works includes “Void Trip, a trippy yet gritty sci-fi story, and “Turncoat,” a story about washed up super hero assassins. He’s also written a number of comics for established franchises like Warhammer 40k, Dark Souls, and The Evil Within. As we’ll discuss and reference later, O’Sullivan is slowly but surely carving out a space for himself, writing self-aware, complex, subtly subversive stories. He’s also a voracious creative, and has worked together with young musicians, for example collaborating with Yungblood on the raucous graphic novel “The Twisted Tales of The Ritalin Club.”

Piotr Kowalski is on art, and has worked on a variety of projects, big and small. Some of that work includes Robocop, Dark Tower, Sex (with Joe Casey), God of Terrors (from AfterShock), Bloodborne comics, and various projects across Image, Marvel, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, and more. Note, however, that Andrea Mutti worked on the first two issues of “A Dark Interlude,” and Piotr Kowalski took over the art for the remaining three issues. Vladimir Popov, who does colors, has worked on all kinds of projects as well. You may recognize his hand from Starship Down, Deadbox, Where Monsters Lie, The Returning, and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. He even worked on a comic about rhinos for the French Zoo. He also worked on O’Sullivan’s Fearscape, so this isn’t the first time the two have collaborated. Andworld Design, who seem to be only more and more prolific lately, and have had their hand in work from Marvel, IDW Publishing, Dc Comics, Kodansha Comics, Yen Press, and so much more. Anyways, let’s jump into this thing.

Art by Piotr Kowalski

What’s this all about?

When we interviewed O’Sullivan in 2020 (damn, that feels like a lifetime ago), he chagrined at this very question, so we’ll do our best to paraphrase what he said there with just a little editorialization. The shortest version is that this is a sequel to to “Fearscape” in the truest sense of the word — same world, same characters, plus a little bit more. One story ended, another begins where it left off. The longer version is that “A Dark Interlude” is all those things, but a little more unhinged, a little more frayed at the seams, and a little more mishmash of kayfabe, reality, hyperreality, and meta, fourth wall breaking tomfoolery. This is a story about unreliable narrators, the authority of the author, and the nature of art and its value. The pitchy, more run of the mill version is this: “Fearscape,” and by extension “A Dark Interlude,” is about a supernatural power called The Muse, an otherworldly eminence of creativity, who once per generation, plucks the greatest storyteller of the era and places them in the Fearscape. Once in the Fearscape, the storyteller acts as our champion, battling the collective fears and follies of humanity. The cycle has gone on for centuries, but this time, The Muse happened to pick Henry Henry, a plagiarist schmuck. On such shoulders rests the hope of humanity.

What follows in an envelope pushing story that on its surface reads like a “Sandman” style interdimensional romp, but this a strain of sarcasm and bite befitting Henry Henry.

Art by Rebekah Isaacs

So why should I read this?

You should read this because it will challenge you, and does things other comics don’t. If other, more traditional comics read like well curated jousts at the ren faire, “A Dark Interlude” is the bar room brawl you get dragged into when your drunk idiot of a friend picks a fight with the bouncer. It’s messy, at times prosaic, at times genre bending, and doesn’t give you an easy out. The exposition can be opaque and the art throws you for a loop. Weird stuff happens, and when you first pick up an issue of “A Dark Interlude” there’s a chance you’ll read the solicit and have no idea if there’s been a database error, typo, or something else entirely — this is because Henry Henry, the narrator of the story, often editorializes in the solicit itself, talking trash to Vault Comics (hence the kayfabe reference earlier). Nothing is off limits for “A Dark Interlude.” For example, the first two issues came out in and around 2020, and the final three have only been on their way in the past year. This, along with the fact that Andrea Mutti stopped working on the comic after the second issue, are both referenced in the story and part of the integral fabric of “A Dark Interlude.” The whole thing is bonkers. This “Why should I read this” section might make it seem like “A Dark Interlude” is a goddam train wreck, and if it is, just know that it’s so much more than that.

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It’s a well crafted story that’s expertly written with attentive, creative art sequences that do everything from capturing dynamic action to zeroing in on evocative character moments. This story really is about the journey, and about the experience of reading it itself — the plot, the frills, the fanfare, all that is secondary. And if that isn’t what makes something a “Don’t Miss This” kind of story, we don’t know what does.

Art by Piotr Kowalski

How can I read this?

You can find “A Dark Interlude” #5 anywhere comics are sold when it releases on November 9th, 2022.

//TAGS | Don't Miss This

Kobi Bordoley

comic reviews, as a treat.


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