Crowdfunding Review: “The Deep Dark” (Festival of Dread Special)

Welcome back to the Festival of Dread, The Splintering‘s month-long celebration of all things dark and dystopian!

Today, we’re featuring yet another “Crowdfunding Review” of an independent comic book, this time it’s The Deep Dark written by Gilbert Deltrez and illustrated by J.L. Giles.* For those of you not familiar with the crowdfunding review format, we grade a crowdfunding campaign on four distinct categories:

  • Book Content and Quality
  • Communication and Fulfillment
  • Packaging and Shipping
  • Stretch Goals and Bonuses

The Deep Dark was funded via both Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I backed a standard, physical tier on Indiegogo without any high-dollar bonuses. So how did it go?

If I had realized that the woman in this cover image had a nose ring, I would have picked a different cover. Nose rings are icky.

Book Content and Quality

The Deep Dark is a 30-page, “zine” format book, meaning that it comes in larger proportions more like a magazine than a typical comic book. Without a perfect-bound spine, one might wonder “Where am I going to store this?” And honestly, I don’t have an answer for you because I haven’t figured it out yet, either. This larger format does allow for some wider panels and page layouts than are possible otherwise, so it does serve the narrative well.

The Deep Dark is intended to be a “Lovecraftian” horror tale inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft (if you needed that spelled out for you). As such, there are definitely some classic Lovecraftian tropes at play, for better or worse. The story follows a small group of women who are celebrating an upcoming wedding in a sort of bachelorette party on the sea. The characters do glimpse into a world which lies behind a watery veil, and then all hell breaks loose. There is definitely a sense of hopelessness throughout, as the “story” of the book is told in roughly twelve pages, while the remaining 18 pages are essentially a series of death scenes. It’s light on plot and there are a couple of wonky transitions, but the story does deliver on its promise of a Lovecraft-inspired horror tale, though some may not find it particularly satisfying.

On the artwork side, J.L. Giles does a very good job in visualizing some exceptionally gruesome deaths. The shading of the creatures and the underwater shadows are more compelling than the scenes above water, but overall, I’d give the art very high marks. There are also plenty of topless shots of the vacationing ladies for those who would be interested in that sort of thing… whoever you are…

That’s one hell of a bitchslap!

Grade: B-

Communication and Fulfillment

The Deep Dark was initially scheduled to deliver in March 2020, though my copy did not arrive until May. A two-month delay is pretty typical even under normal circumstances, and given that the COVID-19 interruptions were just starting to hit full steam around that time, I definitely didn’t have any hard feelings in receiving the books just a bit later than planned.

The delay was also not a surprise, as Deltrez informed his backers with updates on a regular basis. I received an email from Deltrez more than once a month, in which he openly acknowledged all of the hangups and pitfalls as they arose.

I did reach out to Deltrez after the campaign closed, as I had not received any files or links to the bonus digital comics that were promised to backers of the campaign. I happily received a response email within a couple of days that completely rectified the issue.

And that’s kinda where the “story” ends…

Grade: B+

Packaging and Shipping

Deltrez used Gemini-style cardboard mailers to deliver The Deep Dark goods, and they arrived in impeccable condition. As our own George Travlos puts it, Gemini packaging is “the Cadillac” of comic book mailers, and my copy came out of the box looking like it had been taken directly from a store shelf.

Not only that, but the book itself came bagged and boarded, too. While that may not be a remarkable detail in itself, The Deep Dark is not a typically-sized comic book. It has magazine proportions, after all, so I didn’t have to worry about tracking down and purchasing a ready-made bag and board for an oddly-sized book.

Deltrez preps The Deep Dark for shipping

Grade: A

Stretch Goals and Bonuses

I only backed the basic tier of The Deep Dark, so the bonuses I received reflect that. On the physical side, I got a Deep Dark bookmark featuring the sexy, bikini-clad redhead as seen on one of the book’s variant covers. Other than being double-sided, there’s not much remarkable about it, though I personally prefer bookmarks to trading cards. I’m a utilitarian, I guess!

The other bonuses were all digital, as those who purchased a physical copy of The Deep Dark were also promised digital copies of three issues of Under the Flesh, a horror miniseries also by Deltrez and Giles. Under the Flesh is a post-apocalyptic style story in which all human males on earth have been infected by a mysterious pathogen. In an effort to prevent this write-up from becoming a full-fledged “double review”, I’ll just say that receiving it purely as an extra perk for backing The Deep Dark was a nice bonus, indeed. Maybe I’ll do a full review of Under the Flesh sometime. Hey, there’s always next Halloween…

3 free digital books ain’t a bad bonus!

Grade: B+

Overall, I was very satisfied with my Deep Dark experience. The despondent tone and oversized format might not be for everyone, but it all served to deliver a Lovecraftian horror experience both as it was intended and as it was pitched. Deltrez now has a solid track record of delivering quality books with a reasonable turnaround time (and without breaking his customers’ bank, too), so I expect that he will continue that same level of quality and customer service when delivering on his other campaigns.

If you are interested in picking up a copy of The Deep Dark, you can actually grab one right now as part of Gilbert Deltrez’s Blackhart Manor campaign, which you can check out here.

Overall Grade: B+

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to check out more of our Festival of Dread content, go here!

*Disclosure: the author of this post has previously provided editing assistance to The Deep Dark writer Gilbert Deltrez on a previous book. This assistance was unpaid.

The Splintering’s Teespring store has new items celebrating October’s Festival of Dread! If you like what we do & want to help keep our site 100% free of paid ads, go here!

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