Wednesday, August 14, 2013
"All right then - who's next?"
Typically, those words are uttered by a person on a rampage, looking to take on all comers. Sometimes though, it works perfectly well when working through a series of something. Like robbing graves in Bloody Dreadful #1-2 from Slave Labor Graphics Publishing.
The issues are written and illustrated by Justin Sane.
Harland and Beatrice Gifford are a couple of privilege. They live a charming life, taking in the local sights such as a carnival. It's at the carnival where Beatrice pays a visit to a fortune teller, who just so happens to give her a glimpse into her future. One house fire and an insane asylum later, things get a lot fuzzier for the strength of their relationship. Throw in a grave digger and you've got what amounts to good clean fun.
Sane's story is one of love and revenge, but he spins it with a fate twist. Yes, there are things we can't control about our fates and sometimes our fates have us doing things that we assume is based on choice. That's what really works about Bloody Dreaful. The Giffords are well-to-do and used to the finer things in life and watching what fate has in stores for them makes for a great read. It doesn't matter who you are; in the end, fate will find you. The air of superiority exhibited by the characters in the dialogue really hammers home the point that these are two wealthy people with wealthy problems.
Art duties are also handled by Sane and the black silhouettes are actually appropriate and quite powerful for the work. He let's the art carry the suspense of the story. There are some facets of it where appearance matters and because the reader only sees silhouettes, it's up to their imagination to project onto the illustrations what they're seeing. It's a wildly effective means of illustrating the tale and really makes it stand out just a bit more. Had Sane gone with either black and white or color illustrations, the story might not have worked so well.
Bloody Dreadful pokes fun at the "first-world" problems that the wealthy tend to have, but it does so in a way that is applicable to everyone. In a sense, we're all fated for something (if you believe that sort of thing) and the Giffords are no different, wealth or not. Sane marries shadows of a possible future with the reality of what will come and presents a union that's quite a joy to read. The work is definitely something a little less ordinary and evokes Edgar Allen Poe and Edward Gorey, paying reverence to both and doing a great job in the process.
Currently Bloody Dreadful is available as a digital comic book series at Comixology as well as directly from the SLG Publishing website. The first issue is free at both sites, subsequent issues are 99¢. A print version is also available from the SLG website and at Amazon.com and a softcover collection of the entire series is planned for next year.