Book - The Chair

The Chair

Steve Taylor-Bryant sits back and discovers the Alterna Comics graphic novel by Kevin Christensen and Peter Simeti, that inspired the crowdfunded film, The Chair...

A while ago I read my first graphic novel from Alterna Comics. I'd seen the crowdfunding campaign for a title called Mother Russia raise a huge amount of money, certainly the most I'd seen for a comic book, and did my usual diligent research of typing 'Alterna' into Google. What I found tickled my fanboy bits as there was a film coming out with my childhood/young adulthood (okay I was already old!) wrestling hero Rowdy Roddy Piper in it. I immediately disregarded our in house accountant, grabbed the company credit card and became an investor. You see, the film was everything I wanted. Dark, twisted, horrific, great cast and the perks for my small level of investment were astonishingly good. I immediately followed The Chair, Alterna Comics, and the author of this madness Peter Simeti on Twitter, excitedly awaiting trailers and more news. What I forgot in my excitement was that The Chair started off as a graphic novel and so, belatedly, I look at the source material before the film's release is upon us.

Richard Sullivan has spent the past ten years as an innocent man on death row. After witnessing the savage killings of his fellow inmates at the hands of the prison's psychotic Warden, Sullivan decides that in order to survive he must match the brutality occurring in the prison. But as he fights to escape his fate, Sullivan is forced to question his sanity as he confronts his own horrific past.

This is a dark book. Not just in subject matter but in artistic tone. Almost black scratchy pencil effects just add more psychological problems to an already troubled reader and certain scenes, due to the way the book is drawn, become almost lifelike in a nightmarish way which was certainly different to anything I'd read before and pleased me greatly in an 'I may need therapy' kind of way. If you just the skim the book, you'll think you are just reading a generic prison story, innocent man on death row blah blah blah but actually read the words, immerse yourself in the story and the characters and it goes deeper than that. There is an, albeit twisted, human element to this story as we follow Sullivan's narration from his despair at where and why he has ended up where he is through his near insanity at the treatment the prisoners receive.

Psychological Thriller? Definitely. Horror? That's down your own definition of the genre and whether you expect zombies or not. What The Chair is can be up for debate but on a personal level I felt claustrophobia just imagining the prison from the half lit images and not very often does a comic affect me this deeply. Stunning doesn't quite do the book justice, hopefully the film is half as good.

Image - Alterna Comics