The spookiest tales aren’t always the ones with the most grotesque monsters or obscene amounts of bloodshed.
True horror is what we imagine in the dark spaces between what we see and what we fear. That place where the unexpected stalks just beyond our line of sight. Illustrator Brian Coldrick explores this concept beautifully in his semi-weekly illustration series, Behind You.
Unlike traditional webcomics, Behind You doesn’t have panels or tell an overarching story. Instead, each image operates as its own glimpse into a unique and intentionally vague horror story. Coldrick uses a single line of text to set the stage for his pieces then lets readers’ imaginations do the rest.
The result is horror that ranges from ambiguous to deeply personal depending on the viewer’s interpretation. Fearful of walking home alone at night or the sound of footsteps in an “empty” house? Wherever your particular anxieties lie, Coldrick justifies them in this series. Not that you’d want to relate to the oblivious characters!
“Leaving a lot of the narrative up to the audience’s imagination has always been an effective trick in spooky stories,” Coldrick explains. “Each Behind You has a setting, a character and a creature, but the lead up to that point and what follows really depends on the viewer.”
Behind You sprung from Coldrick’s love of all things horror, particularly spooky stories he found on the internet:
“My favourite type of spooky internet story is the real life account. These barely function as narratives as much as scary scenarios. There are so many gaps in the stories there’s lots of room for the reader to fill them in with their own conclusions. This series is essentially my attempt to purposefully do the same.”
Coldrick frames each image with a rounded edge in order to make them feel like they’re inhabiting a single page within a larger narrative. This callback to storybook images of old mimics the plate marks left during the printmaking process. The result is a cohesive look for the series that still provides a variety of settings and subjects.
Eventually Coldrick began adding subtle animations to his work. These animated gifs provide some of the creepiest scares in the series. You’ll find yourself monitoring the background for the tiniest hint of movement, all the while knowing the characters aren’t nearly as safe as they believe.
It’s enough to make you cast hesitant, half-serious glances over your own shoulder. Just in case.
After posting new images roughly once a week for over 2 years, Coldrick has finally collected the bulk of the series into an upcoming book.
Published by IDW, Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories will feature an introduction from Joe Hill and is available for pre-order ahead of its October 31st release. Fans can also order individual illustration prints or follow Brian’s website for a look at more of his work.
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