The Black Project


Click the cover to see the preview

$11.99 •







September 2013

At least 25% off the print price!

Winner of the First Graphic Novel Competition 2012

“Exquisite, excruciating and exceptional... A landmark, once read, not easily forgotten.” – Paul Gravett, comics journalist

Getting yourself a girlfriend is easy, according to Richard. All you need is papier mache, string, soft material, a balloon, some old-fashioned bellows, and a good pair of scissors. The difficult bit is keeping her secret.

Set in an English suburb in the early 1990s, 
The Black Project is the story of Richard’s all-consuming passion for creating ‘girls’ from household objects. But as his hobby begins to flourish, his real life friendships and family relationships deteriorate. Richard is an unreliable narrator, and the reader responds to his loneliness and his dogged attempt to find a companion, while being horrified by his warped creations. The novel’s focus is on the divide between childhood and adulthood; where sex, perversion, and the grotesque feature in their many forms.

The much-awaited debut from the winner of the inaugural First Graphic Novel Competition, 
The Black Project is a darkly funny story of obsession, beautifully crafted in embroidery and lino-cut. The judges included Ian Rankin, Bryan Talbot, Hannah Berry, Steve Bell and Ed Hillyer (ILYA).

“Brookes's story is told via embroidery and lino cut. The result is a bit like Cath Kidston embroidering for David Lynch.” – Teddy Jamieson, 
Herald Scotland

“It's a painstaking and wonderfully original artistic achievement.” – Paul Ashley Brown, 
Comic Bits Online

Gareth Brookes has created something truly incredible with his first book, The Black Project, a graphic novel made from embroideries and prints…Brookes has done a masterful job with the voice of Richard, perfectly straddling the divide between unsettling introversion and youthful resilience. The strength of his voice, and indeed the whole book, lies in its design. The Black Project is genuinely unlike anything else happening in the graphic medium at the moment.” – Stacey Bartlett, We Love This Book

Utterly bizarre and quite brilliant.” – Steve Bell, judge, First Graphic Novel Competition

“Sublimely creepy … It feels authentic for the suburban setting, complete with spirit-crushing malaise, small joys and the lurking presence of circling, unseen terrors – a perfect, bland backdrop on which to examine the cruelty and banality of adolescence in full flame. The matter of fact delivery, through both word and image, works like a gift – not only in conveying moments of gruesome comedy, but also underplaying the inherent tragedy of frustrated feeling, still yet forming, barely understood.” – Ed Hillyer, judge, First Graphic Novel Competition



Broken Frontier

•Comic book website

“Clandestine first love with a papier mache twist is the order of the day in this remarkable debut graphic novel from creator Gareth Brookes. The Black Project distinguishes itself not just for the deadpan morbid drollery of Brookes’s narrative delivery but for its unusual and idiosyncratic artistic identity. For those unaware of the small press work of Gareth Brookes this will be the perfect entry point into the wicked whimsy of his creative mind.” – Andy Oliver

Forbidden Planet

•Comics retailer

“The Black Project is full of that creeping horror feeling, you know the sort… dark memories of childhood, creatures under the bed, the terrifying walk home in the dark, the sweat-drenching dream that leaves you unsettled and on edge all day, that sort of thing. Brookes plays on that feeling, adding dark humour and deadpan first person voiceover to create something really unsettling, genuinely creepy. Horrific at times, ridiculous at others, The Black Project is a fascinatingly creepy experience.” – Richard Bruton

Paul Gravett

•Comics journalist and curator

“If I had to pick one solo highlight of September 2013, it would have to be The Black Project by Gareth Brookes, a landmark, once read, not easily forgotten. At times, you won’t quite believe what you are reading and seeing, all executed in embroidery and linocuts, four years in the making. Exquisite, excruciating and exceptional.”