Paul Allor just blew everyone away with a PTSD-themed issue of GI Joe. Now he is creating his own comic, writing and lettering Hollow Heart, with his co-creator on Tet, artist Paul Tucker, from Vault Comics. Described as "a queer monster love story about the choices we make between giving our loved ones what they want and giving them what we think they need." Hollow Heart marks the switch of Valut's horror imprint Nightfall into a year-long imprint rather than just around Hallowe'en.
Hollow Heart follows EL, who used to be human, but now he's a jumble of organs in a bio-suit. El is also in tremendous pain and has been for a very long time. Hope arrives in the form of Mateo, a mechanic brought in to work on EL's suit. Mateo sees EL in a way no one else ever has. And what's more: Mateo offers EL an escape.
"Empathy is a tool and a burden and a gift," said Allor. "When we see someone in a state of joy, we feel our own spirits lifted; and when we see someone in pain, we realize their pain is hurting us, as well."
"There are countless stories about people with a pathological lacking in empathy, distorting their view of the people around them," continues Allor. "But Hollow Heart is about what happens when a largesse of empathy does the same thing. It's about the overwhelming desire to relieve someone's burden, and how that desire can warp our view of someone, transforming them from a complex being with conflicting wants and desires, into something more abstract: a person defined only be their pain, and by the need to remove it."
"One of my favorite experiences watching a film is when a character arrives on screen and without saying a word, I am already in their corner," added Tucker. "I'm rooting for them and feeling what they feel. I find this all the more effective when the actor is someone I'm not familiar with – no baggage attached."
"Creating comics gives me a chance to 'cast an unknown' for every new project. I can put down lines on paper and find that connection, regardless of the characters background or behavior," continued Tucker. "The creation is an empathetic act. With Hollow Heart this process becomes meta, as it reflects the book's main theme. Hollow Heart is indeed about empathy, and more crucially it explores the dangers of empathy."
Hollow Heart #1 is published in February 2021, and will launch with a Vault Vintage variant cover by Nathan Gooden and Tim Daniel that homages Frank Miller and Paul Rubenstein's cover to Rom: Space Knight #1.