Communications technology has created a world where the concept of privacy has changed. There’s a distinct possibility that someone is looking at us right now. Our selfies and photographed memories are on social media for everyone to peruse. Sites like Youtube and Tiktok can capture snippets or whole moments, perhaps even the entirety of our lives. If there’s an anxiety that stems from our ever-changing society, then there’s bound to be a horror story inspired by it. Blink, by Christopher Sebela and Hayden Sherman, is a descent into an underground world where an all-seeing camera is both god and devil.
Our Virgil in this digital underworld is Wren Booker, a journalist who spent her career chronicling the stories of others while knowing next to nothing about her own. Discovered at three years old covered in blood on New York’s streets, she only remembers fragments and nightmares that she can’t make sense of. Then she discovers the website showing several live feeds from an abandoned building, and she remembers a little more. Searching for answers, she breaks into the building to discover the bizarre social experiment known as Blink and the impact it’s had on her life.
Sebela’s story has the claustrophobic tension of looking over a rat’s shoulder as it navigates a maze while the promise of escape gets farther and farther away. Once Wren and her urban spelunker guide go beyond where sunlight can touch them, they enter a whole other world, one where creatures that can barely be called human thrive in the shadows, while all their actions are recorded by an all-seeing yet unfeeling eye. The book’s main theme, as well as the source of most of its terror, is the constant question of who is watching.
Sherman’s artwork really hammers this feeling home. Blink is found footage horror told through a print medium. Sherman relies on dizzying camera angles and distorted perspectives to give the entire project a funhouse feel. Not only is the reader watching Wren try to make it to daylight, they’re watching the underground world she is in unravel and mutate in ways that would make Escher dizzy. Sherman’s art, in fact, does the lionshare of moving the plot forward, or at least generating unease in the reader as they join in her descent.
Blink is an interesting take on found footage horror. It’s even an original one. That said, Blink might not be for everyone. Readers who might enjoy Wren’s trip into the digital underworld, captured in multiple angles, will be readers who don’t mind mind-bending, psychedelic visuals. Some readers will like how Blink explores our degradation of privacy along with our rigid views of reality as revealed through our senses. Others might get a headache.
By Christopher Sebela
Art by Hayden Sherman
Oni Press, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)