- Posted by Johanna on March 10, 2008 at 7:48 pm
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Archaia Studios Press
The Grave Doug Freshley is a five-issue bimonthly miniseries debuting in April from Archaia Studios Press. At first, it didn’t sound like my kind of thing. It’s a Western, with a young boy orphaned and accompanied by an undead guardian cowboy. But that complex pun title struck me, and then I noticed that the author, Josh Hechinger, listed his influences as Sergio Leone (obvious) and Looney Tunes (wha?).
It comes through. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, even while keeping you hooked with the mystery of why Doug doesn’t die. He’s not your typical laconic gunslinger, either. He’s a former schoolteacher who was hired to give the boy some schooling, even before the tragedy that struck the family. There’s a strong sense of companionship between the two characters essential to demonstrating their growing bond. And the dialogue’s Western-style, for a strong sense of setting, without being laughable.
mpMann, the artist, has previously illustrated several other titles for Archaia, including The Lone and Level Sands and Inanna’s Tears. (That one was written by CWR contributor Rob Vollmar.) I don’t know how to describe his work. It’s easy to read, the key determinant, but distinctive, with an edge. He can draw both emotive closeups and the bare horizon of the West. There are previews at all of the links so you can see for yourself. I don’t recommend reading too much about the book’s description, though, because it’s more entertaining the less you know.
You can order #1 with Diamond code FEB08 3472. The first issue is setup, mostly establishing the two’s relationship and their quest for justice, but I’ve had the pleasure of reading the whole thing. All the typical Western conventions — the gunfight, the hanging, the importance of one’s hat — make an appearance, but they’re funny. Not slapstick, not too-clever sarcasm, just honest humor. (An online preview for this review was provided by the creator.)
Update: (1/25/11) The comic was never published in serial form. Archaia has announced that the book will debut in digital format, to be followed by a print graphic novel in Fall 2011. Brigid Alverson sums up the project’s history.