Through the Longkang #1
Myle Yan Tay (writer) and Shuxian Lee (artist)
Checkpoint Theatre (2021) / 20 pp.
The second collaboration between Myle Yan Tay and Shuxian Lee brings us the start of a trilogy that delves into the paranormal.
Through the Longkang brings together the well-loved elements of action-adventure, mystery, and intimations of the paranormal tales that those born in the 1990s and earlier grew up with.
We are immediately thrown into the heart of the action as Fishball and Brick find a punctured football on a beach, and one of them (they are not clearly identified as neither of them is addressed by name) has a psychic insight upon touching the ball.
It is revealed that a teenager went down into the longkang (canal) to retrieve a football. Upon climbing out of the longkang, he suddenly found himself exiting a well and saw an abandoned bungalow with a rather inviting swing. Horrors ensue. Our heroes hope to save the boy before it is too late.
The well being the portal between the longkang and the abandoned bungalow reminds us of horror stories of suicides and wrongful deaths. Could this be related to the disappearance of the teenager? Is Myle Yan Tay bringing in certain local cultural tropes and recontextualising them for a new audience?
Ilustration by Shuxian Lee
As for the art, it is wonderful to see what Shuxian Lee can do with grey, white, black, red, and the occasional dash of brown. Her minimal approach truly exemplifies how less can be more.
Her backgrounds resemble charcoal drawings, lending the story an ominous feel. Need to make the bungalow look sinister? Simply add shades of red, and highlight the entrance with white to indicate the light is on, while making it appear that the building has eyes and a mouth.
Additionally, the irregular layout of the panels adds a certain dynamism to the action, without needing to add more details to the drawing itself. This is best exemplified in choosing to have two small squares on the top left to show the teenager emerging from the well, while the rest of the two-page spread depicts the sprawling bungalow.
That said, the first instalment will leave impatient readers unsatisfied as all it does is to set up the story of how a teenager went missing. It is unclear why this is planned as a trilogy. If the other instalments are of similar length, the trilogy could simply be a self-contained comic book.
However, the set-up is intriguing enough for one to look forward to the rest of the series just to see what other elements will be brought in, and what effect the serialisation has on the overall story-telling.
Through the Longkang #1 is published by Checkpoint Theatre and retails at $7.90 (e-book) and $10.90 (hardcopy).
To purchase a copy, visit Checkpoint Theatre’s online shop.