Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sick in the Head – review

Author: Alexander Gustafsson

Artwork: Alexander Gustafsson

First published: 2015

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Film producer Larry can't catch a break. The glory days of his career are long gone and he is now a bitter and tired man. The already problematic filming of his latest vampire film takes a turn for the worse when a real vampire and her deranged goons show up. Larry and his nephew Willy try to get to source of the problem, while evil hunchbacks, unkillable psychopaths and an army of zombies try to do them in. Sick in the Head is an absurd and twisted tribute to horror films of yesteryear with a unhealthy dose of morbid jokes and unreal surrealism that will leave a permanent mark on your mind. Or two marks on your neck.

The review: For full disclosure myself and artist/author Alex do correspond and the book was provided for review.

sample page
This is very different to a lot of the graphic novels I have looked at (both for here and just for pleasure) in that the artwork eschewed the more modern realism and aimed squarely at a cartoon style in pen and ink that really suited the graphic novel. It added an absurdism that matches the story for, in many respects, this sense of the absurd is the heartbeat of the narrative.

We are in a place of vampires and zombies, brought to life through a device that breaks the fourth wall between the real world of the comic book and the films within that universe. It is a really interesting concept that works within its own unique set of rules and surrealism. This allows the characters passage into films and film characters passage back out into the real world and opens the door for the monsters (as well as Melvin, the burglar accused of murder whose bungled execution left him as a serial killer).

Alex underscores this with a black humour and a love of B movies that works really well. It was the knowingness within the dialogue that lent this its strength and I’ll happily score this at 7.5 out of 10 as a unique standalone that proudly brings the B into graphic novelisation. There is a Facebook page for the graphic novel here.

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