Ice Cream Man Volume 9: Heavy Narration

Ice Cream Man Volume 9: Heavy Narration
Ice Cream Man Volume 9 Heavy Narration review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Image Comics - 978-1-53439-983-9
  • Volume No.: 9
  • Release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781534399839
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Conceptual, Drama, Horror

Over recent volumes, particularly Subjects & Objects, W. Maxwell Prince has used writing as a theme for his disturbing short stories, and it manifests again in a clever opening tale about how writing takes its own path. Prince addresses readers directly, reflecting the volume title in what’s a very knowing piece contrasting the stories he claims he wants to write with the material he actually produces. Part of the joke is there actually being optimism in the following story.

A joy of Ice Cream Man is the unpredictability. You know every story’s going to be crafted by Prince, artist Martín Morazzo and colourist Chris O’Halloran, and you know there’ll be four helpings of desperation, doom and depravity per collection. Beyond that, there’s no knowing. The Ice Cream Man may put in a pivotal appearance, a cameo or be altogether absent and the form the horror takes is unknowable. Here, for instance, we’re provided with a catalogue in ‘The Book of Knowable Monsters’. It’s actually the weakest offering here, retreading old ground with a haunted protagonist offering descriptions of horrors already seen and maybe some to come, but it’s still first rate.

It’s accompanied by a man in search of a whale, two tramps on a train and that comparison beginning “the story I want to write is light and breezy. Uplifting. Full of mirth and sunshine”, and indeed we get that. It’s as gloriously illustrated by Morazzo as the darkness beneath, O’Halloran’s colours defining the contrast. It’s an interesting study, as were it not for the narrative captions and colouring you’d be hard placed to tell from some pages which the tragedy is.

Once again, Ice Cream Man sends a shudder down the spine with the existential terror. Dare you come back for more?