Tuesday, 19 May 2009

"An Acid-Laced Trip Down the Rabbit Hole"

Like most members of my generation, my sense of self-worth is founded entirely in what people say about me on the internet. Historically speaking, and judging exclusively from the contents of my spam-trap, the online world's chief concerns about me have always been my bank account details and the dimensions of my cock. However, I do occasionally venture out into the wildernet to see what other topics may be under discussion.

All of which is a long-winded way of noting that Cancertown has received a stellar review from the gentle creatures over at The Sidekick Blog.

Here's what they had to say:

Cancertown Review

by The Bone Man

Leading up to the Bristol Expo and during the event itself there was a very definite buzz surrounding one book; Cancertown. Everyone was talking about just how good this book was, so I figured I'd pre-order a copy - along with Insomnia Publications' other offerings, Layer Zero vol.3 and Cages (all 3 for 20 quid - special expo bundle, how good is that?!). I've been laid up since the expo with a pretty disgusting ear infection. Having to lie on my side for most of the day so that my head doesn't explode in a mushroom cloud of yellow gunk, I figured I'd tuck into my stack of books I picked up from Bristol and Cancertown was the top of my list.

I really wasn't sure what to expect. I'm relatively new to independent British books, normally reading US titles from the big two publishers or at best some IDW or Boom! Studios titles. My first impression was just how polished the presentation of the book was - a stunning cover and a very professionally bound book that wouldn't look out of place next to anything you may find from any of the big American publishing houses.

The book grabs you by the throat right from the start and drags you kicking and screaming into the vividly twisted world of Cancertown. Your tour guide on this journey is Vince Morley, a man on the edge of sanity - or does he just see things you can't? He's the sort of hero I can really get onboard with, full of piss and vinegar but with a level of self-doubt that very much grounds this engaging character in the likeable range. I've heard him being compared to John Constantine, which is a fair comparison, the story itself feeling like a mixture of Hellblazer and Alice in Wonderland. Morley is more than the sum of his parts though, a truly human champion bringing with him all his own flaws and doubts.

The story feels like an acid-laced trip down the rabbit hole, only it's not talking rabbits with watch clocks you're chasing. No, instead we've got giant floating teeth and giant eyeballs with legs. Every time you pick the book up you can't help but feel slightly grimy, as though some of the freakishness of Cancertown can somehow corrupt and cling to you after every visit. This first instalment is clearly setting up the rules and themes that make up this world but the writer, Cy Dethan, manages to not only make this set-up interesting and vital but a fantastically intriguing and exciting journey that leaves you wanting more.

I can already see this book making the transition to celluloid very easily, helmed by someone with a distinct imaginative vision - maybe Guillermo del Toro or Terry Gilliam. But I'm getting ahead of myself. What we have here is a well crafted, fantastical story that demonstrates what a comic book should be. I for one can't wait to read more tales from Cancertown.

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