I am finally starting to find something called a “work-life” balance, so I hope to keep the regular reviews coming at a steady clip. This week we return to the wonderfully wacky world of Sink (see, that is called a misdirect), and I also check out a comic that has been on my radar for quite a while, Stray Dogs.
Welcome to Graphic Content. Now, let’s read some horror comics.
We last tackled Sink back in March. When we last left off, we enjoyed a sensory overload issue involving those roaming clowns who have haunted the periphery of events in Sinkhill. It was a brutal, ugly, and generally pretty entertaining issue, despite some minor flaws. Issues #7 is titled “Lead Balloon” and follows a character we only briefly saw in Emma’s story. Each issue has, in a sense, been its own little slice of Hell, but the anthologized connections make their way into each story, creating a larger world.
The story follows Jordan, who is rapidly approaching his 30th birthday with the threat of a “lead balloon” hanging over his actions. As for what the “lead balloon” is, to say anything else about it would spoil a fun subversion. Well, subversion to a point – Sink can be happy up to a point. Eventually, something bad happens. That’s just how this book works.
The issue was solid overall, making a compelling story about a down-on-his-luck dickhead trying to ingratiate himself into his gang through cruel and stupid pranks but ultimately unable to seal the deal because he is a fundamentally decent person. The issue is almost a happy little story, albeit with a sense of dread that does hang over the events. This being Sink, however, there is a bloody, tragic ending. I do applaud how writer John Lees almost made me think that finally, for once, something nice could happen in Sinkhill.
Alex Cormack’s art continues to suit the series perfectly. The issue felt cinematic – the storytelling of the failed pranks, a series of panels depicting each consequence. It worked out very well. Color also played out interestingly in this issue, with mostly monotone environments punched up with bright spots of color here and there. It felt somewhat representative of the character of Jordan himself, mostly stuck in a drab life but his inner goodness shining through.
Overall, I think this was a fine issue of Sink, maybe one of my favorites in the run so far. It’s still very much sad, tragic, and gory, but there is a certain flexibility to the setting, as Lees indicates in his supplementary essay in this issue. The bonus of a small backup comic in this issue is also a nice touch, making the world of Sink that much larger and grimmer. (4.5 / 5)
Stray Dogs #1
I’ve been intrigued with Stray Dogs since I first heard the pitch: A murder mystery from dogs’ point of view. I am happy to read the first issue finally. I am very much intrigued to see where the story is heading. The team consists of writer Tony Fleecs (My Little Pony) and artist Trish Forstner (My Little Pony) with color assistance by Brad Simpson and Lauren Perry. They have a pretty sizable team behind to book as well, with layouts by Tone Rodriguez, Lauren Herda with the logo, and pre-press by Gabriela Downie. This is all evidence of a big, meticulously planned book.
“Chapter One: Good Girl” follows Sophie, a small, trembling dog clearly wrapped up in trauma. We accompany her on a traumatic vet visit only to find Sophie elsewhere – a home out in the country full of dogs in the care of a mysterious man only know as “Master.” Sophie meets the other dogs in the house, led around by Rusty. But something has Sophie nervous, and she can’t seem to remember. Until, of course, a trigger object reminds her of her actual owner. Sophie’s new home may be the result of the most heinous of crimes. That is if her memory can be relied on.
The first issue is excellent, establishing several themes that I expect will be followed throughout the rest of the run. Particularly ideas about memory. Memory can be tricky and inconsistent, and trauma only intensifies memory issues. Are we experiencing the point of view of an unreliable narrator? We’ll see. I also appreciate the characterizations of the dogs, though only two or so of the dogs outside of Sophie have a significant presence in the story. I am sure that will change, and I understand the necessity of so many dogs, given the story being told. I wonder if Fleecs can give each of the canine characters a defining moment. It would certainly be a good trick.
The art is also exciting. The dogs have a cartoony, Disney-esque appearance full of character. They look fantastic – brightly colored, generally unshaded against shaded and textured backdrops. It quite honestly feels like still from a cartoon, and that’s so wonderfully dark given the story’s subject. Trish Forstner’s also capable of taking things in a more serious direction, contrasting the dogs’ cartoonishness with the more realistic appearances of the humans who pop up within the pages. The coloring team does a great job utilizing color to reflect mood and time. However, I think the characters could be shaded a bit more often – there are panels where a lack of shading on Sophie or any of the other dogs feels inconsistent with the environment.
Overall, I am glad I finally get to dive into Stray Dogs. At this point, the series is finished – it just comes with the territory of jumping on board late. However, I am looking forward to reviewing the run and seeing how the story plays out over five issues. (4.5 / 5)
I aim to wrap up the John Constantine, Hellblazer run this week, which means I’ll also be covering Killadelphia. Ideally, that will let me handle a new Just Swamp Things next week.
If you want to keep me honest, drop me a line on Twitter and ask me about the next review article. I could use that. See you next time.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.