Friday, December 21, 2018

Review: THE DREGS #1

BLACK MASK STUDIOS – @blackmaskstudio

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler
ART: Eric Zawadzki
COLORS: Dee Cunniffe
LETTERS: Eric Zawadzki
MISC. ART: Thanh Nguyen photograph
COVER: Eric Zawadzki
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (January 25, 2017)

Rated M/Mature

The Dregs was a four-issue miniseries published by Black Mask Studios.  It was the creation of writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler and artist Eric Zawadzki.  Zawadzki also lettered the comic book, and Dee Cunniffe colored it.  Described by the publisher as a “meta noir,” The Dregs revolves around a homeless man who tries to solve the mystery of a missing friend who is also homeless.

The Dregs #1 opens in modern day Vancouver, British Columbia, and the questions is “Where's Manny?”  That is what Arnold would like to know.  Like Manny, Arnold is homeless and is addicted to the street drug, “Listo.”  Obsessed with detective fiction, Arnold prowls a five-square block area like author Raymond Chandler's famous fictional detective, Philip Marlowe, searching for clues as to the whereabouts of Manny.  In and out of a drug-induced haze, Arnold may unwittingly and simultaneously discover and share Manny's fate.

I found out about The Dregs #1 via a preview in the second issue of Black Mask Studios' acclaimed comic book miniseries, Black (set in a world where only Black people have superpowers).  I was immediately drawn to The Dregs because of its cannibalism element.  I consider this comic book to have science fiction elements, and I have been morbidly fascinated by cannibalism in science fiction ever since I first saw the film Soylent Green (1973) decades ago.

There is a hopeless Don Quixote element to The Dregs, which is married to a detective fiction style that recalls David Cronenberg's film, Naked Lunch (an adaptation of William Burroughs novel).  I think the later issues of this series played with themes of celebrity and gentrification, as well as cannibalism.  However, this issue's keen ersatz take on the P.I. results in an intense, engaging story.

The Dregs #1 is a fascinating, post-modern, detective comic book that looks to the past, but takes its own path.  That is unlike so much of comic book crime fiction, which slavishly replicates the crime fiction of book publishing and film-making establishment.  This is an original work on the part of writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler.  This is stunning work on the part of artist Eric Zawadzki, via his striking page layout and graphic design.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2017 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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