By Erik Svetoft. Published by Fantagraphics.
Hardcover, 328 pages, 2-Colour, 2023.
This nightmarish debut, a biting critique of consumer society and the “wellness” industry, recalls the films of David Lynch and Lars Von Trier and the horror manga of Junji Ito.
Somewhere in northern Europe, a five-star spa and conference hotel caters to anyone who can afford it. But, at every turn, where luxuriance should reign, things are amiss. A demanding VIP client disappears without a trace. A business seminar is cut short. A young official gets lost looking for his room. A socially outcast masseuse struggles to find acceptance. Two lovers struggle to escape the horror of everyday life — which includes horrific apparitions routinely haunting them. An egocentric manager doubts himself. Abused employees accept their sad fate. Curious inspectors come to settle their accounts.
Meanwhile, mysterious moisture damage is spreading. Amidst the extravagant decor, black and viscous liquid flows slowly in the labyrinthine alleys of the resort and trickles down the walls. Hot and humid, the dampness is suffocating. Mold sets in and with it skin diseases, hallucinations, ghosts, malevolent spirits, hybrid creatures, and other monsters both dead and alive. Spa is a horrific graphic novel debut marked by grotesque and whimsical humor.
"Svetoft's magnificent drawings exert a powerful pull. (...) Beautifully grotesque." — The Daily Mirror
"It's like The White Lotus guest-directed in icky-sicky fashion by David Cronenberg and Nick Drnaso." — Publishers Weekly
"Flip through a dozen or so pages at a time, and linger on the intricate, strangeness of the art. Or dig your way through the entire thing in one setting, let it fully absorb your senses, and get lost inside its grotesque world." — Cinema Sentries