San Diego Comic Con has become a great meeting groups uniting international fans together. So as happens when there was an opportunity to meet the German artist, Helge Vogt and chat about the new graphic novel series, ALISIK. It was just a bonus when we realized that we were both fans of Sailor Moon!
ALISK begins as a cute gothic story of death, reanimation, and love. Alisik is the name of the young woman who wakes up dead in a cemetery. She doesn’t know how she died but feels that something is very wrong. Until she can sort out things with the Grim Reaper and decide her fate, she has the company of the other cemetery occupants to wait along with. Although these cemetery occupants are as friendly and animated as the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, we learn that none have died so innocently. Beyond the toothy smiles of each character lies a deep and dark history that have contributed to their deaths.
Then, there is the blind boy who walks through the cemetery. Not knowing that Alisk is dead as he can only hear her voice, the two begin a relationship in among the gravestones and in the dark.
The cover for this graphic novel would not have normally caught my eye. Alisik is drawn in a doll like way complete with pink round circles on her cheek. With her voluminous hair above her petite body, she looks like a certain popular doll. Intrigued by the comparisons to “Tim Burton,” I went past the cover and right into the first page. From there, fell deeply in love with the style and story.
Alisik went beyond my expectations. The art was richly detailed and glorious. The story was adorable on the surface but with each page uncovered the layers. There are some cute interludes such as Alisk going to the mall to grab some new clothes to impress the boy (although he’s blind but it was adorable anyway) or meeting the Mikel Sickel. Even as we smile and quickly enjoy the characters, we also quickly learn that there is indeed a dark reason that they have been stuck in the cemetery. Even with their jokes and happy smiles, they reach deal with the reasons of their deaths. With the first graphic novel, which captures issues #1-#4, we learn about one characters past and the consequences of playing with two hearts. As this is just the beginning of the series, we don’t know why they have not moved on. All we know from the other characters pasts are the hints from their bodies such as a crooked neck or a hole in their bodies.
What I immediately appreciated from the graphic novel is that although it is a dark gothic story, it is drawn in a cute way. It most definitely caters to the pastel/gothic aesthetic. The only Tim Burton comparison I can make is that there is a dead girl like The Corpse Bride. However, where Burton loves to amplify the grotesque, Vogt does not take it that far. It is an aesthetic that I can handle without being frightened. Instead of being a scary story (for now), it really comes off as an adorable dark fairy tale. I would compare it more to the aesthetic of being between Tim Burton and Over the Garden Wall. Just like Over the Garden Wall, it takes a sad or scary story and soften in a landscape of beauty and soothing atmosphere. Even when there is a character with a hole in its stomach.
It was a thrill to meet and get to know Vogt. Throughout the interview, I can sense how proud and happy he was to not only be in San Diego but also to open this story to another audience. Personally, I was beyond thrilled to learn the story about the black and white cats of the cemetery! Check out the video below for the full interview with Helge Vogt.
It is with great happiness that I share this comic gem from Germany and I hope that many will be surprised and love it as much as I do!
Official website: http://www.trickwelt.com/
Trailer (it is in German but it’s still beautiful to watch even if you don’t understand the words):
San Diego Comic Con 2018 Interview with Helge Vogt: