Dakota McFadzean’s Hollow in the Hollows is a tiny tale of mysticism by way of adolescence, filtered through the dynamics of neighborhood adventures. When we first meet Mary, she’s hiding from the school bus and peppering the moment with some fantasy narrative that makes her little transgression more exciting. We soon find out she has an actual purpose for walking to school on her own — a detour through one of those creepy wooded areas so many small towns seem to have, where kids and creeps all hang out.
Mary comes upon a treasure — a deer’s skull hidden in a rotted out stump that becomes the focus for a self-generated mystical moment. Pretty soon, she’s obsessed with it like her own personal Cthuhlu, and her interest begins to steer her friendship with Arnold toward antagonism, even as a couple teenagers work as an opposite force to Mary’s invocation of the deer skull as something more than what it is.
Mary’s moments of running wild are juxtaposed to the lack of freedom in school, where menial art tasks can’t possibly match up to the way that skull is making her mind fly.
McFadzean brings this all to life with the same energy of Mary herself, and an enthusiasm for what she sees in that deer skull. She’s looking for signals of something else, something more, and anyone who’s ever been a kid and marking out their own territory in parts of the neighborhood that might seem untamed and filled with the unknown can certainly feel what both McFadzean and Mary are experiencing. In that way, Hollow in the Hollows is like a little communal moment, an acknowledge of that time of searching when we were all young, realized through what is becoming increasingly more assured cartooning from McFadzean.
Order a copy here if they’re still available.
Vermicious has a very thoughtful review of my short comic, Hollow in the Hollows.