Review: Lenore - Swirlies / Author: Roman Dirge / Art: Roman Dirge / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
Cuddly Goth antics abound in the latest collection of Roman Dirge's Lenore comics. Swirlies sees the undead semi-psychopath attend a 'birfday party', fend off the advances of a smitten stalker and attempt to survive the vengeance of a cyborg embalmer. All in a day's work for everyone's favourite zombie Goth.
This hardback collection of Lenore strips is beautiful, before one even opens the cover. The art within is gorgeous – a cross between Tim Burton cartoons and a Peanuts strip. While it may look quite cutesy, it's surprisingly rude and vicious at times. This was my first time reading a Lenore book, but I was hooked, in spite of my initial cynicism. Like the unbearable Nemi by Lise, Lenore has a very specific set of character tics and behaviour. She often spouts nonsense, acts childish and is easily distracted. Unlike the horrible Nemi, we can accept such childish behaviour from Lenore, because she is, after all, a child. And being dead can tend to affect one's mental health. Nemi, on the other hand, is a grown woman and responsible for ruining my bus journeys to work for the past five years, appearing daily in the free public transport newspaper, The Metro. Sure, I could not read the strips, but I'll always know that horrible, horrible woman is there.
Dirge's Lenore inhabits a world of zombies, cyborgs and inexplicably multiplying Native American Indians. The best story in the book is Birfday Party, in which Lenore attends a child's birthday party along with her living doll, Ragamuffin, and a shape-changing demon. Hilarity ensues as she accidentally murders most of the guests and sends a hotdog sausage flying somewhere a hotdog sausage really shouldn't go. The simplistic but frequently hilarious stories are reminiscent of the equally brilliant Domo comics; like Domo, Lenore is a force of nature, innocently bringing chaos and disarray to those in her near vicinity. One can't help feel sorry for the book's antagonists – stalker Josh Beaverbottom and cyborg embalmer Mortimer Fledge – who have both had their lives ruined by the innocently insane living dead girl. With the black humour frequently hitting its mark (the Aliens and Hills Have Eyes references are particularly good), Swirlies is a fun and engaging, if disposable read.
Swirlies is a great collection of funny, bizarre and clever Goth comics. Its sense of humour may be an acquired taste (most likely aimed at the younger, more casual comic book fan and Hot Topic shopper) but it makes for a nice distraction in-between Tim Burton movies and My Chemical Romance records.