Hey kids - remember the 1990s? Remember when everybody was dyeing their hair black and publishing mopey, pretentious "comics" with painted interiors and oh-so-dark themes, the better to express their eternal longing for a ride to the mall so they could shoplift something from Hot Topic? And if your comic had vampires - SEXY vampires - then you were definitely producing excellent work that proves once and for all comics aren't for kids! Because let's face it. Kids won't buy this crap. They're too smart.
Here we have ground zero of the "goth" comic revolution, "Cadence Of The Dirge", published by "Gothic Limited". This comic is, by the way, named after a song by New Orleans metal band Exhorder. Let's see, you got your scritchy scratchy Sienkiewicz painting style, you got your bats, you got your busty vampire woman, your other busty vampire woman, you got your leather jacketed crazy hair dude, I see some skulls there in the graveyard, and you gots your guy in the background that looks like an extra from "Fist Of The North Star". The only thing missing is Count Chocula and "Eddie" from the Munsters. All systems goth!
This comic is about a guy who goes to a strip club to see his girlfriend. This is the greatest strip club in the world because they hand out full bottles of what appears to be White Zinfandel at the bar, and the bouncers go down with one punch. Also they seem to have a liberal policy concerning hiring the disabled, because some of them strippers ain't got arms. And remember, nothing says 'goth' like Comic Sans. It's the font of the undead!
Whoops! For some reason girlfriend is a blood drinking zombie vampire woman!! No, they don't explain it, she just is, okay?
However, their blood drenched tenderness is interrupted by hissing guys in suits. No, they don't explain it, it just happens, okay?
Confused and bewildered by the unexplained events of the past few pages, our hero figures what this comic needs is a flashback. Because things just weren't confusing enough.
The roguish charm of our hero is expressed in this closeup. What a charmer! He's dreamy! Here our not-yet-vampire couple visits a Bourbon Street fortune teller. Yes, all women stand like this, okay? All women, everywhere, sport belly shirts and pose like they're wearing eight-inch heels. I just learned this today.
It's a bit confusing here but I believe what's going on is that girlfriend has to go to work so boyfriend hangs out with his friends drinking Dr. Pepper shots (which -FUN FACT- actually don't have Dr. Pepper in them), and then they remember where they parked, and then they bump into somebody on the street. Don't just ignore the concept of "panel to panel transitions"-- ignore the HELL out of it!
Here our hero demonstrates his charm, grace, social skills, and general ability to cope with today's modern world. By pissing in a cemetery.
Unbeknownst to him, the cemetery is apparently the site of a hideous satanic ritual involving sexy punk rock girls and gigantic weightlifters. I wonders where they found these amazing looking Satanists. All the Satanists I ever met were balding, overweight beardos with coke-bottle glasses and severe personality disorders.
Here in the modern age we've learned comics are totally for adults, man, with mature themes and sophisticated concepts that elevate the graphic novel form to fine art. And yet they still feature people pointing and shouting "Get him!" Also the "bonk" is a nice touch, lends the perfect air of comedy to this bare-breasted decapitation human sacrifice ritual scene.
Isn't it enough that my sternum has been ruptured by this silicone-injected devil woman? Must you spatter me with green, glowing goo as well? How much can one man endure?
"After him, you fools!" That is some mature and sophisticated dialog right there.
So remember that polite guy that was bumped into a few pages back? Now he's in the cemetery killing the devil worshippers who were sacrificing the guy who was peeing in the cemetery, and this is all his flashback, the peeing guy, whose girlfriend is the vampire woman stripper. Are we clear? Then we'll continue.
Except this all wasn't a flashback, apparently it was a dream, because the writers forgot what peeing guy was doing when he first started flashing back to his cemetery-peeing bare breasted heart-ripping green goo-reviving adventures, that apparently happened before he found out his stripper girlfriend was a vampire. Also, through the window: Laser Floyd.
And just to bring things to a shocking and surprisingly fruity cliffhanger, the polite beardo guy who was killing the satanists, he flies in the window because he's a vampire too! Also a ponytail.
Leather pants, little goatee, ponytail, promises to never leave you alone... they should call this book "Cadence Of The Restraining Order".
I realize my languid, torporous, soul-weary ennui with this totally cliched material probably colors my review, but even in 1996 the whole goth, Anne Rice, vampires, creatures of the dark, Danzig, Count Chocula nonsense was hackneyed and overplayed. The sheer amount of hard work that must have gone into painting this comic boggles the mind, especially when you consider it's in the service of having devil strippers holler "Get him!"
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