Arsenic Lullabies

Posted: Tuesday, March 2, 2004
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Arsenic Lullabies

Creator: Douglas Paszkiewicz
Publisher: AAA Milwaukee Publishing
Address: PO Box 370412, Milwaukee, WI53237, USA.
Price: $12.99(US)

This trade paperback contains some of the most hilariously nasty short strips that you are ever likely to find. Babies get mulched, people blow their brains out, children end up being sexually abusef "for the good of society".

Douglas comes up with story after story that deal with people doing evil for the most mundane of reasons. Perhaps it happens by accident, but the characters don't seem too upset about what they are doing. For such shocking content, the subtlety with which Douglas constructs his stories is eye-opening. The jokes take attention to detail to pick up, and the characters are wonderfully deadpan. This functions to magnify the horror of much of the events depicted.

Amongst the assortment of work collected together for this anthology there's a continuing story that follows Voodoo Joe and his chilling tales of hate and revenge, as he hires out his black magic abilities so clients can gain the upper-hand in their depressing personal lives or frustrating professional relationships. Be warned - nothing is too cruel for Joe.

To match the subtlety of the storytelling Douglas has crafted artwork that gives his characters sour, sad, and soulless expressions. You can see that life has ground them down, and even in their moments of sweet vengeance they are hard pressed to feel anything apart from numb. Joe Voodoo is an interesting illustrating task - a guy with a thin wooden carving as a head. Somehow it manages to be wooden and expressive at the same time.

This collect is definitely for readers who can leave moral judgements at the door (holocaust humor anyone?), or who have decided that humanity deserves every piece of bad luck that comes along. Once you're in such a frame of mind, you'll laugh and laugh and laugh... then you should seek professional help.

In a Word: Grim

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