Saturday, 10 February 2007

All of death's a stage: A Divine Dramedy

(I did a mini-review of this strip some time ago but there was a muck up with Firefox's formating so I had to scrap it.)

Usually when I purchase dead tree comics I focus on the gothic and the strange published by Slave Labor Graphics and Oni Press. I have never felt the inclination to blather over fucking Spiderman and the hordes of spandex clad bogan louts. A Divine Dramedy should follow Agnes Quill and go for a deadwood cross-over once it builds up a sizeable archive because it follows that particularly wry approach to darkness for which I am the target market. This strip examines 3 'friends' as they find themselves in a a graveyard. They're dead, but death is just the begining...(I had to put that cliche in there, I'm sorry.)

In the begining the state of being post-mortem was mined for weirdness and laughs as the central trio of 'friends-enemies?' explored the afterlife and its numerous fluid quirks. It also allows what could be deemed a 'slice of life' webcomic to buck the trend. There are still gags here but these tend towards surrealistic sight gags based upon the afterlife. If the afterlife isn't all that different from the absurdities of breathing there is still the remains of friendships and simmering hatreds from their previous existence.

Recently the strip has been living up to what looked like a coy little reference to Dante's torpid epic to Beatrice. There is drama here amidst the baroque Lethe of death, how to make a living, how to keep up with the jonses. Likewise, from its sketchy origins, the strip has gone for an increasingly realistic vein of linework. Tierney is taking something I'm always in favour of complexity and emo storylines so this appeases my sensibilities. Don't worry, it's not Fall Out Boy Emo, it just looks as if the strip is aiming for examination of the bread and butter problems of human interaction. Still, It's hard to tell so far as Tierney has only just begun to inject some thematic muscle in the storyline. This is going to be hard after he built up the afterlife as an ornate glass menagerie of wierdoes and talking rabbits. Now that we're seeing glimpses of human emotion as opposed to goofing around it will be interesting to see how this is handled.

(Musical Accompaniment: I know I'm lifting this from Jimmy Tierney's profile but I think Interpol's Antics is a good selection for this strip. Far more rougher and angular than Turn on the bright lights, death will never sound so apathetic.)

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