Webcomic: Dark Down There

Review by Seán Donnelly

Created by Joe Loftus


A short but captivating comic by writer/artist Joe Loftus, Dark Down There is a macabre, haunting tale detailing an excavation to the bottom of the sea, beautifully realised through strong linework and a limited colour palette that works in the comic’s favour. The story is told via poem, but as the journey to the bottom of the sea continues the rhymes fade away and give way to a repetition that feels more tormenting with each utterance. The conflict is simple yet effective, detailing a mother’s grief as she deals with the loss of her son, and it is techniques such as the repetition that elevate the work to something deeply affecting.

This is also aided by the comic’s art. The strong linework is evident enough; characters feel real and the depth and obscurity of the ocean has a genuine movement to it. Additionally, colour is also very strong. The comic is rendered in a series of reds and teals; the mother’s scenes are bright red while the underwater surroundings are a softer, more subtle shade of blue. The tension between emotions is obvious enough – the impassioned love of a desperate mother against the cold, unforgiving sea – but it comes into its own during the comic’s second half, which is where it really comes into its own.

It’s hard to talk about, since it is something that should be read and experienced, but the use of intense red against still blue is especially effective here. The ambiguity of the ending is especially powerful, a decisive gut-punch that will leave the reader haunted after reading it. Dark Down There manages to accomplish in a few pages what can take other comics several issues to reach. It is a read well worth your time.