Review by Frank Plowright
Denis Saunders wakes up one morning on the side of the road, which is not an uncommon experience for him. However, a difference is that the surreal and impossible are staring him in the face when he reaches a place called Nowhere. To begin with he considers it’s just another dream, and the solution is to find a bar, but that leads to a fight and then a giant iguana-shooting expedition in the company of the local sheriff and his daughter.
Having an alcoholic as a protagonist is a creative idea on W. Maxwell Prince’s part, allowing what any reader would run screaming from to be just accepted by Denis, and as he comes to know Nowhere and it’s strange population, so do we. The basic message is that people are people even if they look like a walking salmon, and a little tolerance goes a long way.
Tyler Jenkins draws everything in a loose style with watercolours applied by Hilary Jenkins. There’s no sensationalising, which helps set the mood, and he pulls off the neat trick of making sympathetic people from those lacking features as we know them. Elsewhere the story’s populated with the type of comedy mutations found in the likes of Strontium Dog, or by Judge Dredd when he takes a wander outside Mega-City One.
Strangeness and Denis drifting along would only take The King of Nowhere so far, so around midway Prince supplies an explanation for Nowhere, and it’s sinister. It explains why Denis is followed to the town by a brute with a nail gun and no respect for life, and it explains the story being a cross between Sweet Tooth and The Truman Show with a more sinister overall agenda.
Think too hard and holes can be picked, not least that a compliant population have never thought to question themselves over a couple of generations. Otherwise Prince and Jenkins supply a consideration of how people muck along in isolated communities, and how what’s normal to them is distinctly strange when viewed from the outside. The mystery and engaging cast carry King of Nowhere a fair way, but once the disclosures have seeped out there’s little left to tell, and an uninspired apocalyptic ending seems tacked on as the only option.