Review - Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours

There are some aspects of the human mind that are better off left alone. The deeper reaches of thought that are only accessible through the most extreme circumstances, where we lose ourselves in madness and chaos. It's those aspects that serve as the setting for Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours from Markosia Press.

The graphic novel is written by Cy Dethan, with pencils by Graeme Howard, colors by Peter Mason and letters by Nic Wilkinson.

The second volume takes place six months after the events of Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth and Vince Morley continues to be a dangerously sick man. His ally Bugfuck is in a psychiatric hospital, but even that's not enough for Vince to keep his sanity. The points where his two realities cross are quickly being erased, prompting Vince into even more madness.

Honestly, to give anything else away from the second volume would be doing a disservice to the reader. Dethan has forged a world polluted by violence, fear and negativity, making it perfectly clear why Vince is so damaged. While the first volume of Cancertown introduced the reader to Vince Morley, the second volume shows you why he's so mad.

He suffers from Cotard's Syndrome, a side effect of which thrusts him into a diseased world that others should be thankful they're not "fortunate" enough to be privy to. He really is teetering on the edge of reality and is struggling to maintain some sense of sanity. Vince could very well run Cancertown if the end of the volume is any indication. The character's environment has such a toxic effect on his life that it's a small wonder the reader doesn't feel dragged into Cancertown as well.

What's more is the dialogue pulls no punches. At all. Dethan inserts lines that aren't sugarcoated or anything, which help to severely depress the atmosphere in the book. Everything seems bleak. Everything seems like it could unravel at any moment and Vince is the one forced to hold it all together. If the almost endless terrors that appear in Cancertown don't cause you to feel uncomfortable, the fact that Vince Worley is the only savior should.

While most of the second volume's success is attributed to the writing, you have to also applaud the art as well. Howard's pencils are terrifying. He reaches deep into some part of the human psyche that most don't know actually exists to create character models that would make Stephen King proud. Every character is depicted as diseased as Vince, keeping the entire book awash in depravity and despair. There are also a wide variety of panel layouts and types, ensuring that the book doesn't get tiresome in reading. It's a long one for sure.

Both Mason and Wilkinson add their own flourishes to the work through the colors and lettering. The colors are completely washed out, devoid of any optimism. They accent Howard's illustrations perfectly and complete the picture of a world mired in hate. Wilkinson's lettering moves with the characters, their appearance acting as projections of that character's state of mind. It all comes together well.

Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours is not for the faint of heart. It's one man's journey to hell and back, similar to that of John Constantine, but with less actual hell. It's a lengthy decay into madness that will have you feeling off on more than one occasion. It's exceedingly violent and crass, meriting attention only from those willing to indulge their less sunny sides in quite a bit of darkness.

Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours is available now.