Cartoonist John Allison is renowned for his sense of humor, creating delightful, hilarious stories in comics like Bad Machinery and Giant Days. But he’s venturing into darker territory for his latest project, Steeple, a five-issue miniseries from Dark Horse Comics debuting in September. Written and drawn by Allison with colors by Sarah Stern and letters by Jim Campbell, Steeple takes readers to Tredregyn Parish, a Cornish coastal town that also happens to be a battleground for the forces of good and evil.
The concept promises plenty of supernatural scares, but Allison is also committed to exploring ideological divides within society, bridging these gaps to look at what people can learn from their opposition. “At a time where we align ourselves along ever more partisan lines and refuse to believe that the other side might have anything useful to say, Steeple is my attempt to show just how wide and deep the grey area actually is,” says Allison. “I’m uniquely placed to tell this story, as personally, my carefully-held beliefs fold like a card table in the face of anyone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about.”
This exclusive preview of Steeple #1, on sale September 18, opens by establishing a sense of dread as a reverend comes home after a particularly trying evening, leaving the exact circumstances a mystery but indicating the severity of the night on the reverend’s bruised body. The tone brightens for the introduction of the central character, a trainee priest fascinated by the folklore of the north Cornwall coast. The cartoonish style of Allison’s linework gives the book an inherent lightness to contrast its darker subject matter, and one of the most intriguing things about Steeple is seeing Allison lean into horror storytelling while developing the endearing character relationships that make his comics so enjoyable.