Pixu: The Mark of Evil opens with a definition of the title stating it as the mark of evil that forecasts imminent death. This foreboding information sets the tone early on for this collaborative effort from Dark Horse Comics. Having this stand-alone graphic novel completely take place in a very stark black and white, adds immensely to the horrific stories contained within. Pixu is not for the faint of heart and aims right for the jugular.
Four apartments within a single building are presented as the main setting for this story. Each apartment contains a unique set of individuals also in the sense that a different artist/writer take on their words and visual style. Vasilis Lomos tackles the obsessive Josh Kalos, whose obsessive daily routines convinces him that his state of cleanliness will keep him closer to godliness and away from the evil urges of the devil. Josh feels safe within the walls of his apartment and believes the temptations of the outside world will contaminate his being. Lamos’s use of both intense close up frames and wide angled perspectives captures the anxiety of Josh quite well.
In the next apartment is Claire, whose troubled mind combats with her uneasy relationship with a man named Omar. Becky Cloonan utilizes, like Lomos, a very intense use of space within the frame. Her close, detailed drawings of Claire begin by showing the fear upon her face and eyes, slowly building more maniacally and brutally as the story progresses. Cloonan, as well as the other creators working on Pixu, do a great job of utilizing sound effects; implementing them as a horror film would, to draw attention to the unnerving black shadowed environments that constantly try to find their way within the multiple characters’ psyche.
Gabril Ba takes on Castillo, a professor who appears to have been left by his wife, has one of the more complicated and controversial segments. Ba’s attention to objects and titled views of Castillo’s apartment gives off a very meditative and claustrophobic vibe, diving further into what has caused damage to the mindset of this character. Fabio Moon, Ba’s frequent collaborator and brother, handles the apartment of Cafard and his granddaughter Katerina. By far, the most disturbing of events happens within these walls and with these characters, involving jars of cooked chickens as a way to ward off the impending evil and a young girl in Katerina who questions her purpose to her grandfather’s demands.
The unifying aspect to Pixu that links each of these apartments and characters is the appearance and growth of a scratchy, black marking that finds its ways within the walls of the building. What each mark signifies is less so if it actually exists and more so the driving force that causes each character to act the way they do. The heavy focus on shadows, with each artist playing with black, white and grey, allows for a real unexpected sense of dread; you never really know what is creeping around or behind the dark walls that surrounds each of the characters. By creating an uneasy atmosphere that quite quickly spirals into a violent blotch of events, Pixu utilizes each of the creators’ talents to create quite the harrowing blend of horror.