Vault is very good at publishing perennial horror comics.

Sci-fi and fantasy, too, but I’m sticking with horror here. The Autumnal. The Plot. Black Stars Above. Fearscape. West of Sundown. Just a handful of the truly excellent offerings. Each of them tend to offer something unique that you’re not going to find anywhere else. Playing with the genre, infusing it with other elements, and crafting something timeless.

One of these masterpieces is one of my favourite comics in the past decade. One of the best comics period in the past decade. A mixture of horror and history, love story and terror. Before Ram V and Sumit Kumar both took on the Batman, they had a tale of a very different sort of bat, man.

I’m sorry, Kori. But what use is a good man…in a world full of monsters?”

These Savage Shores

These Savage Shores by Ram V, Sumit Kumar, Vittorio Astone, and Aditya Bidikar is a marvel of storytelling. To say that it is about one single thing is to do it a discredit. As there are multiple layers that you can delve into in order to derive context and meaning. Set within the waning days of the Mysore and Calicut kingdoms, chronicling part of the spread of the East India Company and the British throughout the Indian sub-continent, it features a tale of men and monsters, of love, and of sacrifice. And a bit more.

The complexity and depth to the story and storytelling really isn’t left to a single aspect either. It’s like an offering for analysis and understanding. It brings to Western readers a location and time period not familiar to many of us. Enriching our knowledge of history in a fantastical way. Yet, it’s done so in a way that is incredibly familiar. An epistolary tale that pays homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, taking that form and infusing it with rich Indian folklore and mythology. It’s impressive how Ram V and Aditya Bidikar portray this through the content of the letters and the lettering respectively.

Likewise, that complexity represented in the artwork from Sumit Kumar and Vittorio Astone. Kumar breaks down most of the pages into variations on 9-panel grids, establishing a steady rhythm and structure to the sequence of the book. Within that he plays with pacing and presentation several times, giving some impressive flow through the panels, like the occasional Z-pattern and a zoom out making the gutters of another page into prison bars. Not even getting into the incredible attention to detail in the designs for Bishan and the vampires. Or the beauty to the landscapes and architecture. Coupled to with the rich texture and atmosphere that Astone’s colours, this is a sumptuous visual feast.

“Tell me again—how were you made, Bishan?”

These Savage Shores

These Savage Shores by V, Kumar, Astone, and Bidikar is a treasure house. It’s the type of story that rewards re-reading, allowing you to find new things each time. It’s a tragic love story. Both personal and national. It also works as a story about monsters. Real and imagined. All while it’s an homage to the form of the classic vampire tale. And more, awaiting you within its pages to discover.

These Savage Shores

Classic Comic Compendium: These Savage Shores

These Savage Shores
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Colourist: Vittorio Astone
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: October 10 2018 – October 9 2019
Available Here: These Savage Shores TP

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!