Small towns might be steeped in old-fashioned charm, a relaxed way of life, and close-knit, comforting safety, but there are often terrifying monsters in many forms looming just beyond their white picket fences and church bake sales that can literally tear your heart out.
A chilling new indie horror series titled Sweet Heart (Mar. 11) and delivered by Pittsburgh-based Action Lab Comics delves into the captivating concept of menacing creatures living among the fearful citizens of Ellicott City, Maryland. These ravenous, spine-backed monsters prey upon the town's residents with great frequency from the time of their youth and through successive generations ... always lurking, always feasting.
The debut issue arrives March 11 and features the writing of Dillon Gilbertson paired to artwork courtesy of Ghastly Award winner Francesco Laquinta (Croak), with colors via Marco Pagnotta (Phantom Squad, Captain Canuck) — and SYFY WIRE is serving up a sneak peek into all its homespun horrors.
Sweet Heart #1 reveals that it's no secret monsters stalk just outside sturdy farmhouse doors, and that being a vital food source for them is a normal part of everyday life in Ellicott City. The police, hospitals, fire department, chamber of commerce, even the school curriculum are all designed to make life endurable for its citizens while they're being actively hunted by the ghoulish, insatiable creatures that exist beside them in a strange symbiosis.
It's an eerie yarn centered around one family's link to the weird beasts and one child in particular named Maddie, a young girl harboring anger for her parents’ decision to conceive her into a “feeder family.” Grappling with obstacles of self-loathing and public humiliation, she must battle back to rescue herself, her relatives, and a bizarre town with very little interest in being saved.
Gilbertson uses the marauding menaces of Sweet Heart as a partial metaphor for the real-life affliction of diabetes, and relates how the disease preys upon persons within their lifetimes and often passes down through posterity by sustaining itself on loved ones with its evil systemic destruction.
"Initially, Sweet Heart was sort of born from my own experiences with Type-1 Diabetes and my family doing everything they could to help, but it quickly became about all the unavoidable monsters and unwinnable fights someone might be facing," Gilbertson tells SYFY WIRE.
"And while the story is set in a town plagued by these things, we chose to focus on a single family. We really wanted to highlight how personal it can feel; how lonely the fight can be even if you know others are facing similar monsters. How does someone live with a constant threat on their life? What does that mean for the people who love you, but are forced to watch from the sidelines? How far would they go to help? It's terrifying and confusing and frustrating at times, so Francesco and Marco do an incredible job reflecting that in the art."
Now visit our exclusive 8-page preview of Action Lab: Danger Zone's Sweet Heart #1 in the full gallery below and mark your calendar for this intriguing release when it invades comic shops on March 11.