Spirou & Fantasio volume 10: Virus


By Tome & Janry, translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-297-3

Spirou (which translates as both “squirrel” and “mischievous” in the Walloon language) was created by French cartoonist François Robert Velter under his nom-de-plume Rob-Vel. The inspirational invention at the request of Belgian publisher Éditions Dupuis in direct response to the phenomenal success of Hergé’s Tintin for competing outfit Casterman.

Not long after, soon-to-be legendary weekly comic Spirou launched (on April 21st 1938) with Rob-Vel’s red-headed rascal as the lead of the anthology which bears his name to this day.

The eponymous star was originally a plucky bellboy/lift operator employed by the Moustique Hotel (a wry reference to the publisher’s premier periodical Le Moustique) whose improbable adventures with pet squirrel Spip gradually grew into high-flying, far-reaching and surreal action-comedy dramas.

Spirou and his chums have spearheaded the magazine for most of its life, with a phalanx of truly impressive creators carrying on Velter’s work, beginning with his wife Blanche “Davine” Dumoulin who took over the strip when her husband enlisted in 1939. She was assisted by Belgian artist Luc Lafnet until 1943 when Dupuis purchased all rights to the property, after which comic-strip prodigy Joseph Gillain (“Jijé”) took the helm.

In 1946 Jijé’s assistant André Franquin assumed the creative reins, gradually sidelining the long-established brief, complete gag-vignettes in favour of epic adventure serials, introducing a wide and engaging cast of regulars and eventually creating phenomenally popular magic animal the Marsupilami to the mix.

Franquin continued crafting increasingly fantastic Spirou sagas until his abrupt resignation in 1969 and his tenure is remembered for the wealth of weird and wonderful players and villains he added to the cast. As well as comrade, rival and co-star Fantasio and perennial exotic arch-enemies such as Zorglub and Fantasio’s unsavoury cousin Zantafio, a particular useful favourite was crackpot inventor and modern-day Merlin of mushroom mechanics Pacôme Hégésippe Adélard Ladislas, the Count of Champignac (and sly tribute to an immortal be-whiskered druid dubbed Getafix…)

Franquin was succeeded by Jean-Claude Fournier who updated the feature over the course of nine stirring yarns tapping into the rebellious, relevant zeitgeist of the times: tales of environmental concern, nuclear energy, drug cartels and repressive regimes.

However, by the 1980s the series was looking a tad outdated and directionless. Three different creative teams then alternated on the feature, until it was at last revitalised by Philippe Vandevelde – writing as Tome – and artist Jean-Richard Geurts AKA Janry, who adapted, referenced and in all the best ways returned to the beloved Franquin era.

Their sterling efforts began with the tale under review here and quickly revived the floundering feature’s fortunes. They contributed thirteen more wonderful albums to the canon between 1984 and 1998, and allowed the venerable strip to diversify into parallel strands (Spirou’s Childhood/Little Spirou and guest-creator specials A Spirou Story By…).

Tome & Janry were followed on the core feature by Jean-David Morvan & José-Luis Munuera, and in 2010 Yoann & Vehlmann took over the never-ending procession of astounding escapades…

Cinebook have been publishing Spirou & Fantasio’s exploits since 2009, alternating between Tome & Janry’s superb reinterpretations of Franquin and earlier triumphs by the great man himself. This tenth release is officially the cartoon crimebusters’ 33rd collected caper.

Originally serialised in Spirou #2305-2321 in 1982 and subsequently released as an album in 1984, this epic episode begins as a shady figure cases an icebreaker just back from the Antarctic. For some reason the HK Glacier has been placed in stringent quarantine and the observer – soon revealed as enquiring reporter Fantasio – discovers why as he trips over a very sick-looking mariner sneaking off the vessel.

It is old enemy and unscrupulous pirate John Helena – AKA “the Moray” – and he has been infected with a highly contagious disease…

In fact, it’s so virulent anyone in close proximity suffers from allergic attacks, even without contracting the primary sickness…

Knowing he’s on to something big, Fantasio rings partner-in-peril Spirou and has his comrade bring down a van to sneak Helena through the cordon of armed government troops. Safely ensconced in a chapel, the Moray tells them of Isola Red, a top-secret lab in the polar wastes where scientists are working with thousands of different viruses and exactly how he got infected with one of them. He completes his tale of woe by demanding that they take him to Count Champignac – the only man alive who can save him… and the world…

The fungal phenomenon is naturally up to the task but his proposed remedy is both complex and risky and involves the dauntless duo infiltrating Isola Red to use the cached toxins there as part of the cure. What the valiant adventurers don’t know is that the chateau is already under covert observation by a thoroughly shady-looking third-party…

Moreover and meanwhile, in a prestigious government building the mastermind behind everything is dispatching his own clean-up team to make the growing problem go away entirely…

Soon Spirou and Fantasio – with the rapidly declining Helena in tow in a hazmat suit – are touching down at Russian base Mirnov-Skaya. Spip is with them but also has to wear an isolation outfit since the vindictive little tyke couldn’t resist taking a bit of the Moray…

The camp is the last official outpost of civilisation and its gregarious commander Captain Sergeiev is delighted to offer every assistance to reach the secret base somewhere deep in the icy interior. After all, the polar explorer is an old friend of the well-travelled inventor Count Champignac…

After a few embarrassing moments of hilarity, the heroes set off as an official rescue party in borrowed snow-cats, with the camp doctor Placebov, hulking guide/driver Nadia Tovarich and even Sergeiev’s action-loving pet seal Vasily along for the ride. The desperate first-responders are sadly unaware that their unknown adversary’s money has bought a traitor who now rides along with them…

Things seem completely hopeless when the mastermind’s clean-up squad explosively ambush the convoy but the killers too are in the dark: they have been followed by yet another interested party…

Although the assassins are soon driven off, it seems they have done enough: the partial cure Spirou was carrying is wrecked and Helena’s suit is breached. They are all now probably exposed to the virus’s full effects…

Back in Europe, Champignac has been making some waves and his efforts, combined with certain journalistic endeavours, have brought low the hidden mastermind and a government official running a clandestine biological weapons plant at the bottom of the world. With the news still breaking, the Count, a military taskforce and a horde of reporters all set off for Antarctica…

In the meantime the doomed heroes have pushed on to Isola Red, in a hopeless attempt to find some miracle cure. What they encounter is truly shocking but does point the way to a solution to all their problems.

Unless of course, the freshly-reinforced mercenary clean-up squad kills them all first…

Blending rambunctious slapstick, riotous chases and gallons of gags with thrills, spills and – wait for it – chills; this is a terrific tale packed with laughs and superb action, deftly wielding a potently satirical anti-war, anti-capitalist message.

Fast-paced and exuberant, Virus is a joyous yet suspenseful romp happily accessible to readers of all ages and drawn with beguiling style and seductively wholesome élan. Catch it if you can…
Original edition © Dupuis, 1984 by Tome & Janry. All rights reserved. English translation 2016 © Cinebook Ltd.

The Story of My Tits


By Jennifer Hayden (Top Shelf Productions)
ISBN: 978-1-60309-054-4

Here’s a short sharp review for an exceedingly weighty and fabulously entertaining tome. If the word “Tits” offends you in any way – GOOD! – that’s partly the point and besides, now that you’ve been sufficiently outraged you might as well read on before dashing off and buying the book…

This huge monochrome tome (198 x 203 x 28 x mm) is an agonisingly hilarious cartoon autobiography by an astonishingly funny, amazingly forthright and relentlessly brave woman dealing with far more than her fair share of misfortune. As her tale captivatingly depicts, Jennifer Hayden (Underwire, Rushes, S’crapbook) came to cartooning late after years muddling through as a commercial writer and children’s book illustrator. Her artistic epiphany came when she was dealing with a ghastly medical diagnosis and stumbled upon a fellow sufferer’s own cancer-narrative graphic journal…

Comprising a breathtaking assemblage of key moments, this quirky quilt of rib-ticklers and gut-punches opens with the author’s early days with ‘No Tits’ describing a life “flat as a board” until biology finally works its inevitable magic. It also introduces her uniquely human and utterly irresistible family…

The amiable amble towards adulthood continues in ‘Still No Tits!’ before ‘What, Tits?’ sees little Jenny’s dreams start to come true after a big change that strangely coincides with an increased awareness of Boys…

As is so often the case, life should come with a warning to be careful what you wish for as ‘What Tits!’ concentrates on college days and boyfriends, eventually introducing musician Jim who will play a major role in the decades to come. More important, however, is his wonderful mother and boisterous brothers…

Real life thunders in with ‘Sick Tits’ when Jennifer’s mum gets a devastating diagnosis and has a mastectomy. Her reaction is far from what her excitable daughter expects or understands…

With the family in turmoil ‘Tits in Philly’ sees Jenny upping stakes to get away; living with Jim until ‘Tits in Jersey’ sees them both move in with his mother. Life goes on and the lovers make a pretty good go of being just like grown-ups. Then once again cancer hits someone they both can’t do without…

‘Tits Al Fresco’ pithily observes the modern trauma of dealing with divorce and the unwholesome fallout of having to handle three “mothers”…

The long-dreaded inevitable finally happens in ‘Tender Tits’ but after the birth of their first child (hah, gotcha!) life gets even more convoluted for Jennifer and Jim with ‘Tits at Dawn’. With the extended family gradually dying away, it’s only after Jennifer’s second child and her development of ‘Mom Tits’ that years of ordinary living narrow down to the moment of her own breast-cancer diagnosis thanks to mammography and ‘Tits on Film’.

Jennifer Hayden was 43 when she made the bold decision which changed and probably saved her, and these scenes and snapshots of her life as it changed to accommodate breast cancer are some of the bravest, most poignant and blackly funniest in this journal. Her world becomes increasingly filled with doctors, counsellors, well-wishers, survivors and fellow patients. Through it all though, that big, big family is there… even if her closest acquaintances aren’t…

‘No More Tits’ shares the days of surgery and beyond, leading to an oddly circular regression to her earliest days whilst coping strategies and mundane daily adjustments vie for attention in ‘Goddess Tits’ before the contemporary world catches up and the tale moves away from us in ‘The End: UnTITled’… (although there is a heart-warming Epilogue sent from idyllic sunny ‘Titaly’

Potent, honest, passionately matter-of-fact and phenomenally entertaining, this is a marvel of philosophical resolve and practical defiance that nobody can read without laughing, crying, getting scared and feeling lucky.
© & ™ 2015 Jennifer Hayden.

Thoreau – A Sublime Life


By A.Dan & Maximilien Le Roy, translated by Peter Russella (NBM)
ISBN: 978-1-68112-025-6

We don’t get nearly enough access to philosophy or big thinkers in comics, but whenever some creator or other does set out to explore deeper issues regarding formative moments in human culture, the results are more often than not splendidly successful.

Author (and colourist of this book) Maximilien Le Roy has clearly given the genre much thought. He was born in Paris in 1985 and, after the usual education and socialisation, he studied Applied Art. Done with that, he began travelling the world, making socially-aware and incisively politicised comics…

His works challenging the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Hosni, Gaza; a Stone in the Sea, Make the Wall) got him banned from entering any Israeli territory for ten years – from October 2015 onwards. He kept on examining those issues, drawing in other concerned creators to help tell stories and depict issues authorities would rather nobody saw, and ask questions members of the global public would love to have finally addressed…

His other apparent preoccupation is great artists and thinkers, resulting in comics volumes encapsulating the lives and achievements of Nietzche (To Create Freedom in collaboration with Michel Onfray), Gauguin – Far from the road, (with Christophe Gauthier) and, from 2012, this superbly haunting examination of Henry David Thoreau’s thoughts and influence upon the world.

Le Roy’s co-conspirator on La Vie sublime – Thoreau is Daniel Alexandre who prefers the pen-name A. Dan. A self-taught artist, his first work was seen on his blog in 2005. He then began to specialise in animal illustration and naturalistic subjects before working for Joker Editions in 2008 on heroic fantasy Jo-Bo, which he had created with scripter Benjamin Leduc.

A.Dan developed a more humanistic style for Algerian War tale Tahya El-Djazaï and WWI saga Pour un peu de bonheur (both with Laurent Galandon, in 2009 and 2012-2013) and recent historical epic La Faute au Midi with writer Jean-Yves La Nour.

The deliciously oversized (284 x 224 mm) full-colour hardback under review here is not a history or biography text. You won’t learn much about Thoreau’s formative experiences in New England or time at Harvard – although the comprehensive essay and appreciation ‘Thoreau, a Philosopher for Today’ by scholar Professor Michael Granger at the back of the book might fill a few gaps whilst clarifying the American intellectual icon’s place in history and legacy for the modern world.

Briefly then: Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817. The son of a pencil-maker, he studied at Harvard from 1833 and 1837. He left after refusing to pay a post-hoc fee to receive the Masters degree he had already earned (anybody believe the monetisation of education is a recent thing?).

Thoreau was an author, poet, philosopher, political thinker, working surveyor, historian and development critic who would have loved to have been best remembered today for his writings on nature and ecological systems. He was also an ardent abolitionist and opposed to unaccountable or over-intrusive government – especially ones driven by a profit-motive.

He refused to pay taxes to a government which fought wars of colonialism and supported slavery whilst publicly and hypocritically decrying it. He is now regarded as the father of Civil Disobedience, with Tolstoy, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and many elements of the Occupy Movement amongst so many other non-violent resistors all citing his writings as the major influence on their actions.

Anything more you need can be gleaned from dozens of books or via the search engine of your choice…

Following Le Roy’s emphatic Foreword, the beguiling glimpse into the writer’s most productive period begins one day in March 1845 as the wanderer returns to Concord, borrows an axe from a blacksmith and wanders off into the woods.

Over the coming months he becomes a virtual recluse, building a cabin home beside a small lake; observes nature in all its wonder and begins collecting his thoughts for the book which will one day become Walden (his immortal treatise on simple living) and the essay Resistance to Civil Government

Through solitary, bucolic months he toils, writes or reads of other philosophers and foreign belief systems; learning more and more about the natural world by essentially becoming part of it. Eventually he is quietly arrested and graciously submits to prison for refusing to pay taxes to a government he does not approve of.

Determined and unrepentant he stays there uncomplaining until his jailers throw him out. They are uncaring that he has refused liberty. All they know or care about is that is that the principled prisoner’s humiliated relatives have paid the outstanding amount… over Thoreau’s strident protests…

Back at his Walden cabin, he opens his home to abolitionists and continues his studies. In 1849 he begins publicly speaking out across the region against the shameful practice and his slowly-coalescing beliefs on the nature and failings of Government. His works are published but sell slowly as he gradually takes a more active part in anti-slavery organisations…

In 1853 his travels bring him to an Indian enclave and he meets an entire people who are his spiritual and ethical brothers. His pronouncements on business and industry destroying nature begin to make some little headway in a young nation seemingly obsessed with exploitative money-making, and whenever he feels deflated or defeated a return to the woods rekindles his spirits…

Sadly his world is not isolated and many of his like-minded contemporaries do not share all his views. In 1853 militant Abolitionist John Brown begins a campaign of bloody terrorism against slave-owners and their supporters which will culminate on the attack on the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry (now regarded as the spark which ignited the War Between the States). Despite ardently disagreeing with the zealot’s methods, Thoreau mounts a spirited courtroom defence of Brown…

And so this glorious montage of preciously stockpiled little moments proceeds: revealing telling incidents of quiet intensity – all suitably garnished with appropriate quotes from the great individualist’s writings – which paint his character in ways dry facts just can’t equal, taking the reader through those final critical years until his death in 1862…

As you’d expect and hope, Thoreau- A Sublime Life is naturalistically lovely, lyrically composed and sweetly sensible: highlighting key moments of introspection, inspiration and revelation from one of the world’s earliest ecologists and most-revered rebel rationalists.

Clever, wise and passionate, this is a fabulous and welcoming treatment of a forward-looking individual increasingly in tune with the times and the people.
© 2012 A.Dan/Le Roy/Editions du Lombard (Dargaud-Lombard S.A.). © 2016 NBM for the English translation.

Captain America and Black Widow


By Cullen Bunn, Francesco Francavilla & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-6528-6

The Star-Spangled Avenger was created by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby at the end of 1940, confidently launched straight into his own title. Captain America Comics #1 was cover-dated March 1941 and made the flag-draped hero an unstoppable, overwhelming overnight success.

The absolute and undisputed star of Timely Comics’ “Big Three” (the other two being Human Torch and Sub-Mariner), Cap was also amongst the very first to fade as the Golden Age ended.

With the Korean War and Communist aggression gripping the American psyche, freedom fighting Steve Rogers was revived in 1953 – along with Torch and Subby – for another brief tour of duty before quickly sinking back into obscurity…

A resurgent Timely – now calling itself Marvel Comics – drafted him again in Avengers #4. It was March 1964 and Vietnam was just beginning to pervade the minds of the American public. This time he stuck around. Whilst perpetually bemoaning the tragic, heroic death of his young sidekick (James Buchanan Barnes AKA Bucky) during the final days of World War II, the resurrected Sentinel of Liberty stole the show; promptly graduating to his own series and title as well.

He waxed and waned through the most turbulent period of social change in US history, struggling to find an ideological niche and stable footing in a precarious and rapidly changing modern world. After decades of vacillating and being subject to increasingly frantic attempts to keep the character relevant, in the last years of the 20th century a succession of stellar writers finally established his naturally niche: America’s physical, military and ethical guardian…

In continuity terms, Cap is a rough contemporary of Natasha Romanoff (sometimes Natalia Romanova): a Soviet Russian spy who came in from the cold and stuck around to become one of Marvel’s most successful female stars.

The Black Widow started life as a svelte, sultry honey-trap during Marvel’s early “Commie-busting” days, battling against Iron Man in her debut exploit (Tales of Suspense #52, April, 1964).

She was subsequently redesigned as a torrid tights-&-tech super-villain before defecting to the USA, falling for an assortment of Yankee superheroes – including Hawkeye and Daredevil – and finally becoming an agent of SHIELD, freelance do-gooder and occasional leader of the Avengers.

Throughout her career she has always been considered ultra efficient, coldly competent, deadly dangerous and yet somehow cursed to bring doom and disaster to her paramours. As her backstory evolved, it was revealed that Natasha had undergone experimental processes which enhanced her physical capabilities and lengthened her lifespan, as well as assorted psychological procedures which had messed up her mind and memories…

Despite always being a fan-favourite, the Widow only truly hit the big time after the release of the Iron Man, Captain America and Avengers movies, but for us unregenerate comics-addicts her printed-page escapades have always offered a cool yet sinister frisson of dark delight.

This particular all-action pairing collects Captain America (… and the Black Widow) #636-640 from November 2012 to February 2013, during which time Cap’s own title had become a team-up vehicle, with previous part-time partners including Bucky/Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Iron Man and Namor.

A good deal of that period had been spent thwarting the schemes of a mysterious villain with incredible resources and astoundingly grandiose schemes. Her name was Kashmir Vennema and this book describes how she was finally brought low…

The tale opens in Central Park as the Black Widow meets a mole to secure crucial intel. Although she was apparently incarcerated by Cap weeks ago, Vennema is still murderously active and the files reveal her secret. “Kash” is a high-end broker: supplying arms, tech, information, people or whatever her elevated clientele desire. Her motto is “Infinite profit in infinite worlds” and her organisation plunders the entire multiverse for suitable wares, before selling them to the worst despots of an uncountable number of Earths.

Moreover, the reason for her success is that everyone who works for her is a Kashmir doppelganger recruited from every alternate world…

Even as the Widow absorbs the implications of these revelations, in some other place a Doctor Doom dies whilst conducting business with a Vennema: their meeting ending in bloody assassination at the hands of infallible sniper Natasha Romanoff. This implacable Black Widow is working for an unknown client who plans to end the Vennema scourge forever…

And on our Earth at maximum detention centre The Raft, Hawkeye and Captain America interview the captive Kashmir and realise she is not of this Earth…

Acting on information received the Sentinel of Liberty later interrupts another buy between a Vennema and a terrorist group. The Secret Empire are looking to buy enslaved metahumans from other Americas but are driven off by the fighting-mad super-soldier. Tragically Cap is totally unprepared for the Black Widow to show up and murder Kashmir. Only after she tries to kill him too does he realise that she’s not his Black Widow…

Things look pretty bleak until she is suddenly taken out by her own counterpart, but the ‘Superhero Horror’ only increases when Vennema Multiversal HQ realises the deal has gone sour and the supreme “Kash” orders all evidence dumped. That involves a dimensional transport trap which lands Cap, Natasha and the killer Widow in a dustbin dimension where all Vennema’s failures and embarrassments end up…

Forging an uneasy alliance with the other Natasha, Cap goes scouting and walks into a catastrophic war amidst the ruins…

‘Tripod Terror’ sees the heroes ferociously battling crazed survivors of other cover-ups, unaware that Kash has despatched her metahuman Hunt Squad – culled from numerous worlds – to ensure their destruction, but the tables are about to be turned thanks to the ‘Raging Reptiles’ of alternate Earth inmate Curt Connors.

This plane’s Lizard is also its Doctor Octopus and he has redemption in mind. He only thought to help his people after a great war but his meddling resulted in a planet of monsters…

Now as the Hunt Squad attacks, Connors buys time for Cap and the Widows to escape, plunging into uncontrolled inter-dimensional chaos and fetching up on a myriad of incredible alternates before finally finding the mystery client who ordered the hits on the assorted Kashmirs.

She has her own team of oddly familiar metahuman champions and wants to dismantle Vennema Multiversal. With Captain America and two Black Widows ‘Taking it to the House’, the hostile takeover is brief and very bloody…

But when the dust at last settles is the convoluted interconnected web of Realities actually a better, safer place?

A dazzling display of pure Fights ‘n’ Tights razzamatazz, this short, sharp and super-heroically sweet team-up tale from scripter Cullen Bunn and illustrator Francesco Francavilla captivatingly capitalises on the popularity of the filmic iterations of these particularly long-lived metahuman marvels whilst playing delicious games with the established comics continuity. The end result is a fast and furious treat all action addicts will be unable to resist.
© 2012, 2013 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.

Melusine volume 5: Tales of the Full Moon


By Clarke & Gilson, coloured by Cerise; translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-212-6

Witches – especially cute, sassy and/or teenaged ones – have a splendidly long pedigree in all branches of fiction, and one of the most seductively engaging first appeared in venerable Belgian comics-magazine Spirou in 1992.

Mélusine is actually a sprightly 119-year-old neophyte sorceress diligently studying to perfect her craft at Witches’ School. To make ends meet she spends her off-duty moments days working as au pair and general dogsbody to a most shockingly disreputable family of haunts and horrors inhabiting and infesting a vast, monster-packed, ghost-afflicted chateau at some chronologically adrift, anachronistically awry time in the Middle-ish Ages…

Episodes of the long-running, much-loved feature are presented in every format from one-page gag strips to full-length comedy tales; all riffing wickedly on supernatural themes and detailing Mélusine’s rather fraught existence. Our magic maid’s life is filled with the daily indignities of skivvying, studying, catering to the appalling and outrageous domestic demands of the master and mistress of the castle and – far too occasionally – schmoozing with a large and ever-growing circle of exceedingly peculiar family and friends.

The strip was devised by writer François Gilson (Rebecca, Cactus Club, Garage Isidore) and cartoon humorist Frédéric Seron, AKA Clarke whose numerous features for all-ages Spirou and acerbic adult humour publication Fluide Glacial include Rebecca, Les Cambrioleurs, Durant les Travaux, l’Exposition Continue… and Le Miracle de la Vie.

Under the pseudonym Valda, Seron also created Les Babysitters and as “Bluttwurst” Les Enquêtes de l’Inspecteur Archibaldo Massicotti, Château Montrachet, Mister President and P.38 et Bas Nylo.

A former fashion illustrator and nephew of comics veteran Pierre Seron, Clarke is one of those insufferable guys who just draws non-stop and is unremittingly funny. He also doubles up as a creator of historical and genre pieces such as Cosa Nostra, Les Histoires de France, Luna Almaden and Nocturnes. He has obviously been cursed by some sorceress and can no longer enjoy the surcease of sleep…

Collected Mélusine editions began appearing annually or better from 1995 onwards, with the 24th published in 2015 and another due this year. Thus far five of those have shape-shifted into English translations…

Originally released in October 2002, Contes de la pleine lune was Continentally the tenth groovy grimoire of mystic mirth and is again most welcoming: primarily comprised of single and 2-page gags starring the sassy sorceress which delightfully eschew continuity for the sake of new readers’ instant approbation…

When brittle, moody, over-stressed Melusine isn’t being bullied for her inept cleaning skills by the matriarchal ghost-duchess who runs the castle, ducking cat-eating monster Winston, dodging frisky vampire The Count or avoiding the unwelcome and often hostile attentions of horny peasants and over-zealous witch-hunting priests, our saucy sorceress can usually be found practising her spells or consoling and coaching inept, un-improvable and lethally unskilled classmate Cancrelune.

Unlike Mel, this sorry enchantress-in-training is a real basket case: her transformation spells go awfully awry, she can’t remember incantations and her broomstick-riding makes her a menace to herself, any unfortunate observers and even the terrain and buildings around her…

As the translated title of this (fifth) Cinebook offering suggests, Tales of the Full Moon dwells on demolishing fairy fables and bedevilling bedtime stories but also gives a proper introduction to Mel’s best friend Krapella: a rowdy, roistering, mischievous and disruptive classmate who is the very image of what boys want in a “bad” witch…

This tantalising tome is filled with narrative nostrums featuring the usual melange of slick sight gags and pun-ishing pranks; highlighting how our legerdemainic lass finds a little heart’s ease by picturing how one day she’ll have her very own Prince Charming.

Sadly, every dream ends – usually because there’s a mess that needs cleaning up – but Melusine absolutely draws the line when Cancrelune and even her own sweetness-&-light Fairy cousin Melisande start hijacking her daydreams…

This fusillade of fanciful forays concludes with eponymously titled, extended episode Tales of the Full Moon wherein Melusine is ordered to read a bedtime story to the Count’s cousin’s son: an obnoxiously rambunctious junior vampire named Globule who insists on twisting her lovely lines about princesses and princes into something warped and Gothic… and that’s before Cancrelune starts chipping in with her own weird, wild suggestions and interjections …

Wacky, wry, sly, infinitely inventive and uproariously funny, this compendium of arcane antics is a terrific taste of European comics wonderment: a beguiling delight for all lovers of the cartoonist’s art. Read well before bedtime – or you’ll be up laughing all night …
Original edition © Dupuis, 2002 by Clarke & Gilson. All rights reserved. English translation 2014 © Cinebook Ltd.

Wet Moon volume 1: Feeble Wanderings


By Sophie Campbell (Oni Press)
ISBN: 978-1-93266-407-2

Wet Moon seems like one of grown-up comics’ biggest secrets. Published intermittently by Oni Press since 2004, it’s a winning blend of the literary traditions of Southern Gothic with experimental comic strip endeavours like Glenn Head’s Chicago – a Comix Memoir, Brian O’Malley’s Lost at Sea or Liz Suburbia’s Sacred Heart

Looking like a beautifully rendered young adult soap opera filmed in monochrome, the story unfolds in the bayou-lapped Deep South, where the eponymous township of Wet Moon is the venue for an art school and home of a thriving Goth/Newest Wave/counterculture scene.

If you’re my age you could think of it as a modern corollary to Athens, Georgia when REM were attending college at U of G or the B-52s were learning to play…

The focus of our attention is pensive, introspective young student Cleo Lovedrop; a bespectacled, overweight, marginally-pierced, heavily made-up Goth-girl attending the aforementioned college. Like every teen she’s a mess of insecurities and irrepressible urges, but all she wants to do is understand both the world and herself. She also has her fair share of dark melancholic secrets…

Cleo is still finding her feet after moving into shared digs, but her mind is elsewhere; something from her past that she doesn’t even want to think won’t shut up even now that she’s here and starting fresh. Thankfully, her best friends Trilby Bernarde and Mara Zuzanny are scoping out the place with her and are proving to be the usual distraction…

Elsewhere, absent pal Audrey Richter is with Martin. They are busy avoiding Pete, the “Pringles Guy”.

He’s one of those pests who always has to show you his artwork. Whilst dodging him, Audrey hides in the public toilets and sees lots of graphitti. The only bit she remembers however, is the clearly scrawled legend “Cleo eats it” boldly adorning the stall partition…

Cleo spends a lot of time examining herself in mirrors. At first the reader is unsure exactly what she’s looking for or at and Campbell is smart enough and bold enough to let the art advance these scenes, using silence as a method of conveying both meaning and mood; letting the observer reach their own conclusions, right or wrong…

What Cleo cannot know is that the girl in the apartment next door is doing the same thing, and will soon become very important to her…

Audrey rushes off to warn Cleo and – after a deputation examines the offending libel – agrees it must be aimed at their friend: after all, Cleo is a pretty rare name…

Also at last agreed that it’s a damn lie, they go their separate ways. Still feeling sick and uncomfortable, Cleo heads home and meets another room-mate: pretty, standoffish Natalie Ringtree who seems to live in a world of her own…

Soon after, Cleo visits her older sister Penny and walks home humiliated after another one of “those” fights…

She would have caught the bus back but when she boarded “he” was there and she had to dash off and puke up her guts…

Back at the flat, she’s still throwing up when final flatmate Malady Mayapple introduces herself at Cleo’s moment of maximum embarrassment…

Audrey lusts for the girl at the Head-Butt Video, but when the delicious Myrtle Turenne surprisingly responds a certain way, the panicked Ricter bolts and flees the store. Luckily big, dependable, dumb-as-dirt Slicer is there when she stumbles right into another petty domestic crisis…

That night Trilby is rescued from a pathetic evening watching Star Trek when Cleo and Mara turn up and drag her to Goth nightclub House of Usher. It’s an eventful soiree. Cleo has a close encounter with a self-obsessed art-weirdo and Mara punches out the girl who stole her boyfriend…

Everything freezes when Fern walks in. She’s the most amazing and breathtaking vision anybody has ever seen… even with her unseeing eyes and malformed, withered hand…

That night is a revelation for so many lonely, hungry people, but all Trilby remembers is that she got really, really drunk and made a pass at Cleo…

A hangover breakfast at the local Denny’s then devolves into an over-heated debate about suicide, potential partners and worse before breaking up acrimoniously. Then as they pass the video store, Audrey tells Cleo about what till-girl Myrtle did and, curiosity piqued, Lovedrop has to see for herself. The so-casual meeting does not pan out anything like she expected…

Making her way home, Audrey finds “Cleo Eats It” fliers all over the place, and while she’s disposing of them, deep in the bayou Penny Lovedrop is at Fern’s palatial mansion applying for a job. This strange client, however, seems far more interested in her annoying half-sister Cleo…

The girl in question’s day keeps getting worse. She can’t avoid “him”. Everywhere she turns that bastard Vincent shows up: not following, just always waiting for her…

And when she reaches the apartment, she learns from Malady that the tenant she replaced vanished one night. She was there at bedtime and gone by breakfast. Nobody saw her go…

Clutching her always roiling stomach, Cleo heads to bed and just can’t rest. Even so, she oversleeps, and dashing out next morning, crashes late into her first class. When she sees “him” sitting there, she hurtles right out again, plunging down the stairs, landing on the girl who will change her life forever…

And deep in the Bayou, other people manoeuvre into position; ready to make their own dramatic entrances…

To Be Continued…

This initial, introductory book is the tantalising tip of a vast iceberg of inter-related life-stories which, like alligators in a swamp, present only the merest hint of what lurks beneath. An ongoing saga encompassing the mystery of a missing girl, lost babies, sinister plots and a malicious hidden enemy utilising the power of lies and innuendo, this engrossing ongoing epic ferociously targets the contemporary battleground of appearance, sexual orientation, acceptance and self-identification, exploring themes of isolation, friendship, trust and body dysmorphia with great wit, keen insight, clever characterisation and immense heart.

Before finding higher profile work in the mainstream with series like Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jem and the Holograms Sophie (Ross) Campbell was astounding readers with this sprawling yarn (six collected volumes thus far and at least two more planned) and this edition comes with a large selection of extras.

As well as ‘Older Wet Moon Artwork’ pages, there are developmental sketches and an abortive introductory sequence which works perfectly as a 5-page silent vignette introducing pre-college Cleo, plus an absolutely crucial ‘Who’s Who in Wet Moon’

With welcoming echoes of Gilbert Hernandez’s complex and delicious celebrations of unique, flawed yet uncompromisingly human communities in Love and Rockets as well as off-kilter televisual landmarks like Twin Peaks, Maximum Bob or American Gothic, this is a series at the fringes, but make no mistake, Wet Moon is every inch its own creature: sinisterly enticing, seductively unconventional and emotionally compelling.
™ and © 2004 (Sophie) Ross Campbell. All rights reserved.

The Cloud


By K. I. Zachopoulos & Vincenzo Balzamo (Archaia)

ISBN: 978-1-60886-725-7

Writer Kostas Zachopoulos clearly has a great grip on classic themes and tropes. His previous comics releases – Mon Alix, The Fang, Mr. Universe, Misery City – have all memorably tweaked and refreshed horror, crime and other genres but his latest offering might well take him into the reading mainstream in a masterful fantasy saga of love, loss, search and renewal.

Imagine The Never Ending Story with sharp edges and harsh consequences or – if you’re an older, better-read aficionado of the extraordinary – remember the buzz you got the first time you read one of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea stories or a Jack Vance tale of the Dying Earth

The tone and topic of those wonderful modern legends ripple through this phenomenally enticing hardback tome, illustrated in a gloriously magnificent progression of painted pages by award-winning newcomer Vincenzo Balzamo (Immortal, Revenge: the Secret Origin of Emily Thorne), offering one more magical myth for modern questers to admire and covet.

In the far future the world has endured its final disaster and been radically changed by mankind’s sins. The entire globe is girdled in insulating, isolating, all-encompassing vapour walls which cut off the people who remain from each other and the strange new things that have evolved to roam the foggy vastnesses. The human survivors of the ancient catastrophe known as the Shine cling to high places in small communities eking out their pointless lives well aware that above the clouds roam ruthless pirates and slavers…

One day – which seemed like any other – a wild little boy exuberantly rode his giant flying wolf – named Cloud – through the roiling foggy blanket. He was on a quest and touched down at a mountain top citadel, seeking something in the skybound city. The boy was searching for a Wish in a Stone and, although the wise men claimed to know nothing of it, a beggar in the elevated street gave him sage advice. The enshrouded elder advised the carefree wanderer that to secure a wishing stone from the Great Before, he first needed to locate The Writer

Finding the sagacious fool was not as difficult as convincing him to help, but the boy had travelled far and found a great treasure the garrulous savant was prepared to trade for the incredible Dandelion Stone

This news caused the child’s mind to spiral back to the tragic last time he had seen his father but more advice from the babbling scribe brought him back to the present. Grasping the stone the boy took his leave only to have the precious prize snatched from his hands by a nimble thief. His pell-mell pursuit eventually resulted in the bandit’s capture, but the cornered foe was only a little girl who claimed her need for the wish was greater than his own.

The boy’s momentary confusion ended when both girl and Dandelion Stone were swept up in the nets of the constantly marauding sky-pirates and the chase was on again…

The Cloud is a superb picaresque odyssey through an incredible world of fantastic throwback kingdoms and floating islands, as our hero makes amazing new allies and mints fresh myths at every brief stopover. Most importantly as the boy gets ever closer to his heart’s desire – coincidentally liberating enslaved races and gradually unpicking the muddled history of the Before Time – he learns of the forces that have subtly manipulated him and realises there is a way to bring the tired, benighted Earth into the light, but only at a terrible price…

Epic, sweeping, enchantingly bemusing and drenched in potent tragedy, this is a sheer delight no fantasy fan should miss.
™ and © 2016 Kostas Zachopoulos & Vincenzo Balzamo. All rights reserved.

The Cloud will be released 20th July 2016.

Yoko Tsuno: the Prey and the Ghost


By Roger Leloup translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-905460-56-4

Sublime scientific investigator Yoko Tsuno debuted in Spirou in September 1970 and is still going strong. As detailed by Roger Leloup, the astounding, all-action, excessively accessible exploits of the slim, slight Japanese techno-adventurer are amongst the most intoxicating, absorbing and broad-ranging comics thrillers ever created.

The phenomenal magnum opus is an expansively globe-girdling, space-&-time-spanning series devised by another monumentally talented Belgian maestro. Roger Leloup began his solo career after working as a studio assistant on Herge’s Adventures of Tintin. Compellingly told, superbly imaginative and – no matter how fantastic the premise of any individual yarn – always solidly grounded in hyper-realistic settings underpinned by authentic, unshakably believable technology and scientific principles, his illustrated epics were the forefront of a wave of strips changing the face of European comics in the mid-1970s.

This gentle revolution featured the rise of competent, clever and brave female protagonists, all taking their places as heroic ideals beside the boys and elevating Continental comics in the process. Happily, most of their exploits are as timelessly engaging and potently empowering now as they ever were, and none more so than the trials and tribulations of Yoko Tsuno.

Her very first outings – Hold-up en hi-fi, La belle et la bête and Cap 351 – were brief introductory vignettes before the superbly capable engineer and her valiant but less able male comrades Pol Paris and Vic Van Steen properly hit their stride with premier full-length saga Le trio de l’étrange which began in 1971 with Spirou’s May 13th issue…

In the original European serialisations, Yoko’s exploits alternated between explosive escapades in exotic corners of our world and sinister deep-space sagas with the secretive, disaster-prone alien colonists from Vinea but, for the majority of the English translations thus far, extraterrestrial encounters have been generally sidelined in favour of epically intriguing Earthly exploits such as this sinister, spectrally-inspired crime caper…

There have been 27 European albums to date. This tale was first serialised in 1981 (in Spirou #2244-2264) and collected the following year as 12th volume La Proie et l’ombre. Due to the quirks of publishing it reached us Brits as Yoko’s third Cinebook outing: a suspenseful modern gothic thriller challenging the barnstorming boffin’s courage, resourcefulness and fundamental beliefs…

Yoko and Pol are driving through Scotland on a Highlands road as the afternoon lengthens into evening when they are forced into a ditch by a young woman throwing herself at their car. The dishevelled creature is being pursued by a pack of hounds and gang of men, but Yoko’s horror is momentarily quelled when the leader of the pursuers explains that poor Cecilia is mad…

The deranged waif begs the strangers to save her, but when her guardian Sir William – the local Laird – arrives, further answers emerge. The poor lass believes she is visited by her dead mother…

Yoko and Pol accept an invitation to stay at the castle, but stay behind to repair their vehicle before joining the party. As they change the tyre a stranger approaches, offering another side to the strange family history. An author, scientific ghosthunter and debunker, the anonymous newcomer relates how 15 years previously Cecilia’s mother Mary chose Sir Brian over another ardent suitor. The rejected swain was a self-proclaimed sorcerer named Mac Nab who prophesied the newlyweds would both die violently and that their daughter would perish before reaching her majority…

When Brian died in a strange accident, his brother William took the seat and married the grieving widow. Mary went mad when Cecilia was five and was killed in a riding accident.

In the intervening years William has tried everything to ensure the last part of the curse would never come to pass, but now at twenty, the daughter seems to have gone the way of her tragic mother. Moreover, reports abound that the sorcerer is still alive, hiding on the estate to ensure his prediction’s completion. When Yoko and Tsuno finally reach the castle they are bristling with theories and suspicions, but steadfastly refuse to give any credence to supernatural forces…

As the household convenes for supper, the visitors are astounded to find Cecilia completely recovered: almost a completely different woman, whose only problems are a short temper and tendency to forget things…

The meal is strained and fractious and ends early. Strangely tired and oddly clumsy, Yoko retires to bed but her sleep is disturbed after a veiled woman in black lures her out into the castle halls before disappearing. All that is left of her is an empty gown.

Baffled Yoko heads back upstairs and lets herself into Cecilia’s locked room. The strange girl is now eager to see her; quitting her painting to examine the dress which she claims belonged to her mother. As they talk, the women glance out of a window and Yoko sees a ghostly figure on a far parapet. It looks exactly like the portrait of deceased, tragic Mary…

Giving chase – and carefully noting that every door seems to open for her – Yoko races across the castle grounds in rapid pursuit with Cecilia trying to keep up. The chase ends in the ruins of an abbey where the technologist passes right through the apparition and realises her suspicions have been confirmed.

Even though she is unaware that sinister eyes are watching her, Yoko is pretty convinced that she knows what’s going on now…

The next day she deftly continues her investigations and makes her preparations to expose a criminal conspiracy years in the making, but has she made the foolish mistake of underestimating her opponents and incorrectly deducing who’s actually behind the murderous scheme?

Complex, devious and subtly suspenseful, this fresh take on an old plot bristles with clever clues for the attentive reader to pick-up on and delivers a splendidly crafty conclusion, once more affirming Yoko Tsuno as top flight troubleshooter, at home in all manner of scenarios and easily able to hold her own against the likes of James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Tintin or other genre-busting super-stars: as triumphantly capable facing swindlers and murderers as aliens, mad scientists or unchecked forces of nature…

As always the most effective asset in these breathtaking tales is the astonishingly authentic and staggeringly detailed draughtsmanship and storytelling, which superbly benefits from Leloup’s diligent research and meticulous attention to detail.

The Prey and the Ghost is a brilliant mystery; which will appeal to any devotee of Holmes, Marple, Castle or Scooby-Doo.
Original edition © Dupuis, 1982 by Roger Leloup. All rights reserved. English translation 2008 © Cinebook Ltd.

Mega Robo Bros volume 1


By Neill Cameron with Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)
ISBN: 978-1-910200-83-4

In 2012 David Fickling Books launched a traditional anthology comic for girls and boys reviving the good old days of picture-story entertainment Intent whilst embracing the full force of modernity in terms of delivery and Content. Each strip-packed issue of The Phoenix offers humour, adventure, quizzes, puzzles and educational material in a joyous parade of cartoon fun and fantasy. In the years since its premiere, the magazine has gone from strength to strength, winning praise from the Great and the Good, child literacy experts and the only people who actually matter – the perpetually-engaged kids and parents who read it every week…

Just like the golden age of Beano, Dandy and other childhood treasures, The Phoenix masterfully manages the magical trick of marrying hilarious comedy with enthralling adventure serials… sometimes in the same scintillating strip such as the stars of this latest compilation: a mega-magnificent sci fi frolic packed into an extra-long full-colour lexicon of high-octane comedy-action.

Plunging straight into the enchanting immersive experience, we open in a futuristic London on a Monday morning. Alex and his younger brother Freddie have missed the airbus for school and dad has to take them. It’s a uniquely Sharma-family catastrophe…

In most ways the boys are typical: boisterous, fractious kids, always arguing, but devoted to each other and not too bothered that they’re adopted. It’s also no big deal to them that they were created by the mysterious Dr. Roboticus before he vanished and are considered by those in the know as the most powerful robots on Earth.

For now though it’s enough that Mum and Dad love them, even though the Robo Bros are a bit more of a handful than most kids. They live as normal a life as possible; going to school, making friends, putting up with bullies and hating homework: it’s all part of the ‘Mega Robo Routine’

This week, however, things are a little different. On Wednesday the lads meet Baroness Farooq of covert agency R.A.I.D. (Robotics Analysis Intelligence and Defence) who is initially unimpressed but changes her mind after seeing what they do to her squad of Destroyer Mechs – all while between singing rude songs, reading comics and squabbling with each other.

Thursday is even better. As a treat, the entire family goes to Robo World where little Freddy rescues a trio of malfunctioning exhibits. The baby triceratops with dog-programming is ok, but the French-speaking deranged ape and gloomy existentialist penguin will be a handful…

And all because Mum was trying to explain how her sons’ sentience makes them different from all other mechanoids…

Friday wasn’t so good. Alex had another one of his nightmares, of the time before they came to live with the Sharmas…

With the scene exquisitely set, the drama kicks into overdrive with ‘Mega Robo School Trip’ as a visit to the museum gives a hidden menace watching the boys the opportunity to create chaos by hacking the exhibits and forcing the boys to use all their super-powers to set things right. It takes all of the Baroness’ astounding influence to hush up the incident. The boys are supposed to be getting as normal a childhood as possible, with friends and family aware that they’re artificial and sentient, but not that they are unstoppable weapons systems.

Now some malign force seems determined to “out” the Robo Bros for an unspecified but undoubtedly sinister purpose…

Even greater cloaking measures are necessary when the enemy causes a sky-train crash and the boys very publicly prevent a ‘Mega Robo Disaster’, but even they are starting to realise something big is up and Mum is a bit extraordinary herself.

Then Freddy overhears some disturbing news about another one of Dr. Roboticus’ other creations in ‘Mega Robo Full House’

The crisis comes in ‘Mega Robo Royal Rumble’ after Gran takes Alex and Freddy to a Royal Street Party outside Buckingham Palace. When the hidden enemy hacks the giant robot guards and sets them loose on the Queen and her family, the wonder-bots have to save them on live TV beamed around the world. The secret is out…

Now the entire world is camped outside their quiet little house, so Mum has R.A.I.D. restore some semblance of the ‘Mega Robo Status Quo’ by building a super-secret tunnel system in the cellar. It’s a big day all around: Farooq is finally convinced that Alex is at last ready to join R.A.I.D. as a full-fledged operative… after school and on weekends, of course…

Freddy is far from happy to learn that he’s not invited. The Baroness still considers him too young and immature…

He quickly proves it when big brother Alex becomes the ‘Mega Robo Secret Agent’. Freddy at last shares with dad the real reason he’s acting up, but has the opportunity to redeem himself and save the day when the ‘Mega Robo Nemesis’ at last makes his move and Alex finds himself completely out of his depth. Then only Freddy can save the day… if anyone can…

Written and drawn by Neill Cameron (Tamsin of the Deep, How to Make Awesome Comics, Pirates of Pangea), this is an astonishingly engaging tale which rockets along, blending outrageous comedy with warmth, wit and incredible verve. Alex and Freddy are utterly authentic boys, irrespective of their artificial origins, and their exploits strike exactly the right balance of future shock, family fun and bombastic superhero action to capture readers’ hearts and minds. With the right budget and producer what a movie this would make!

Unmissable excitement for kids of all ages and vintage, this is a true “must-have” item.

Text and illustrations © Neill Cameron 2016. All rights reserved.
Mega Robo Bros will be released on June 2nd 2016 and is available for pre-order now.

Criminal volume 4: Bad Night


By Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-63215-260-2

Do you recall the early 1950s? I wasn’t actually there, but for comics fans it was a time of astounding promise. Every conceivable genre of funnybook could be found on US newsstands (except porn, I guess): children’s fantasies, teen comedies, licensed books, war, super-heroes, horror, science fiction and especially crime stories.

Bad guys living (and dying) bad lives were everywhere, and don’t even get me started on movies. Technicolor™ was still expensive so the concerns and sensibilities of the public were most commonly realised through gritty, grainy, moody Film Noir vehicles.

This populist pulp-paperback and B-Movie movement towards cynical post-war realism grew into an art form all its own while nobody was looking…

What has this to do with the book in question? Nothing really except that when this series first came out the comics industry was enjoying a mini-revival and resurgence of straight crime thrillers. Moreover, collaborators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips were then forging a creative partnership that seemed incapable of setting a foot wrong: each stand-alone story arc building on the previous caper, getting tougher, stronger, meaner and better…

The entire series was repackaged and re-released as a uniform set of trade paperbacks in 2015 with this fourth captivating collection featuring Criminal volume 2 #4-7 (July-November 2008) – possibly the most experimental tale in the entire canon.

Jacob Kurtz has got a lot of rage to deal with. The mild-mannered sap was never an angel. In fact he used to be a pretty good counterfeiter. However, when his wife disappeared he was the cops’ prime suspect in her murder until the body finally turned up, clearly the result of an automobile accident.

In the meantime of course Jake had been targeted by remorseless, hard-line Police Detective Max Starr, who had gone totally old school on him to secure a confession the widower could not make. Those injuries healed pretty quickly but were nothing compared to what his wife’s mobster uncle Sebastian Hyde did to him…

Crippled, ostracised and a total recluse, these days Jacob spends his time and makes his living crafting the savagely ironic comic strip Frank Kafka, Private Eye, gaining petty points by making the cops – especially the funnybook version of Starr – look like utter idiots.

Still, things are tough. Kurtz is in constant pain and afflicted with crippling insomnia, and even when he does drop off for a couple of hours the idiot vigilante haunting his neighbourhood pulls some crazy stunt like torching a drug-house and another night gets shot to hell…

When all else fails, Jacob heads for the all-night Blue Fly Diner to pass the time reading and shooting the breeze with Bob and Pat

This one Bad Night, however, even that surcease is denied him as a young punk starts beating on the girl he’s with and Jacob is drawn in. Nobody thanks him for it; not the girl and certainly not cartoon super-Dick Frank Kafka who is always beside him, annoyingly telling the pen-pusher what a real man would have done…

Driving home in the pouring rain, Jacob picks up a drenched hitchhiker and is horrified to discover it’s the girl from the diner…

And so starts a devious and convoluted saga of sexual obsession, subterfuge, big scores, torture and vengeance as she seduces Jacob into theft and murder and far, far worse. Iris is a crazy lady with lots of problems and a body to die for, but she’s working to someone else’s hidden agenda and, after all the double-dealing and bloodletting peaks, the slick conspirators learn a dreadful truth: it’s Noir; everybody’s got a secret they haven’t shared yet…

What they should have wondered from the start is where would a counterfeiter-turned-cartoonist could learn so much about violent crime… and especially how to get rid of bodies?

Filled with twists, turns and even the occasional stunning plot-somersault, this viciously effective and deceptively scary yarn is dark, brutal and fearfully compelling: a tale of the other side of society which affords an irresistible view of raw humanity. These are stories that can’t be ignored… so don’t.
© 2008, 2015 Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips. All rights reserved.