Graphic Novel Review: Cancertown
Written by Ian Cullen on June 4, 2009 – 3:45 pm -
Synopsis: Vincent Morley is a barely functional former mental patient with an inoperable tumour nestling in his brain. See that? That’s our hero. Morley suffers from a rare mental disorder that causes him to believe a number of unlikely things about himself and his relationship to his environment. Chief among these delusions is the idea that he has the ability to step out of reality and into a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown.
Now, that’s all very well as a personal, private little Hell – but when normal people start tripping over the cracks in reality and falling into Cancertown, Morley decides that his role in life is to find them and ferry them back out again.
(Synopsis Excerpt taken from www.cancertown.co.uk)
The Review: Cancertown is one of those few books that I’ve been waiting a while to check out - mostly because Cy Dethan, who wrote the book, really did a great job of selling me the book last summer when I interviewed him for scifipulse, and again more recently when we had him live on the SciFiPulse Radio show, along with his creative team.
So after hearing the premise, which as far as I’m concerned is somewhat unique for a comic, and also very British in the way it explores a somewhat dark and flawed character who has the best of intentions. I thought I better check this out.
Cancertown leaps out of the page at you, grabs you by the jugular and doesn’t let you go. Simply put, it’s weird, disturbing and any number of other words that you’d associate with horror. It is also compelling and, in the tradition of the best horror comics, has just the right mix of action, adventure and mystery thrown in to keep you guessing.
This is the first work of Cy Dethan's that I have read, and probably will not be the last. One thing that grabs you right away about Cy’s writing style is that he is the absolute prince of darkness when it comes to one-liners and interesting combinations of some of our all-time favourite slang terms. In short, it’s a bit sweary. So, not a kid's book.
What we have, in essence, is a very unusual hero in Morley who seems to be dealing with an ensemble of characters that you’d probably see in a Clive Barker movie. The characterizations all seem very strong, especially the Piecemaker and Corpsegrinder, who both enjoy quite a lot of panel time due to the fact that Morley has numerous interactions with them throughout.
The story is helped immensely by some great artwork from Steven Downey, and I especially enjoyed Downey’s black and white art work, which was used for some of the flashback sequences throughout the book. In fact, the teaming of Steven Downey with colourist Melanie Cook and letterer Nic Wilkinson really works well.
If you're a fan of horror comics then I feel you can’t go wrong by giving Insomnia’s Cancertown a try. It tells an often weird, funny and strange compelling story. I couldn’t put it down.