Review by Frank Plowright
As Roman Dirge killed Lenore for a second time at the end of Wedgies, readers of the original series might have been surprised to see her back here. It’s not a big problem. A friend and a spade do the trick, although it does mess with some fundamental laws of the universe, and in her longest story to date at fifteen pages the returned Lenore has to contend with that. Of course, this being Lenore, “contend” is something whimsically settled with a few hurtful words and an agreement, the simple form of storytelling.
That’s not entirely fair as Dirge has become more a more accomplished storyteller over what’s in effect a Lenore story that extends over the entire book. It now reads as if he plots a couple of panels ahead of the one he’s drawing. This means larger roles for the devoted Mr. Gosh, with the cast expanded by the addition of Pooty, former bounty hunter for the Dark Overlord. This leads to a couple of brilliant moments, such as Lenore randomly pulling the bucket with holes cut into it off Pooty’s face, only to reveal a smaller version, but overall the then nothing happened school of comic creation applies. This is despite a plague of vengeful mice and the attack of zombie Nazis. If you find something of value amid the storytelling on the sample page, by all means investigate further.
What is of value and can be seen on that page is Dirge’s very individual cartooning. The animation of Tim Burton is an obvious influence when it comes to the mood, but the ghoulish charm is all his. It’s a style that sugar coats some gruesome activity, although without as much blood as before until the zombie Nazis. Here Dirge works variations on the Three Stooges poke to the eye gag a fair amount.
Where Dirge also scores are with the strips about his own experiences, how he tormented his mother as a child, how he in turn was tormented by his father, and the strangeness of the toilets in a Japanese bar. These show Dirge can compact the necessary details into a short story effectively, and they’re all the funnier for that.
Many people find that Lenore’s stop/go cuteness works for them, and as with the other Lenore collections this was originally printed in black and white before the current colour edition. Swirlies is next.