Lumbering Dead, the
Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By: Steve Saville
Creator(s): Lee Munday
Publishers: Dog-house Comics (Self Published)
An appropriate sub title for this 22 page comic could well be, ‘A day in the life of the lads’, because that is essentially what it is.
The first instalment of this very British comic revolves round the every day existence of a group of twenty- somethings. It is very much an exploration of ‘slacker’ culture. So we travel with the various characters to the pub [where a considerable amount of the comic is set], to the video shop, on a search for biscuits, we follow them as they vomit and urinate in different toilets [and at different times], in fact we pretty much track them through every nuance of their fairly meaningless day.
This is not a criticism, and the fact that their life is as stale as the food they find in the fridge is the main point that Munday is at pains to establish here. He has deliberately set the scene that I feel he will explode in subsequent editions. The tedium of Den, Rich and the other characters day is almost stupefying but it is deliberate.
There is a real Shaun of the Dead thing going on here and I think that this comparison will only intensify in coming editions. Like the movie the main characters seem to be fairly aimless and lost, pining for their halcyon College days and wishing that their sex lives were more active [well active at any rate] and, like the movie there are enough hints to make the reader feel confident that there will be another narrative arriving soon that is far more interesting, and one that these, less than totally likeable, lads are going to be unwillingly thrust into. The fact that the cover with its parody of the Beatles Abbey Road album sleeve has a deranged zombie figure bursting through it means that the hints are not always subtle.
The dialogue that is the basis for establishing the characters in this first instalment is, as you would expect it to be, very British. It is witty, sarcastic, laden with puns and often employed at the expense of one of the lads or an associate of one of the lads. Farting is funny and a topic of extensive discussion. Their conversation is often abusive and humorous, at the expense of others [especially if they tend to fat or enamoured with a member of the opposite sex]. But then again what do you expect from a group of lads for whom ‘mooning’ is an acceptable way to greet each other. This combination of pub culture and sarcastic dialogue means that parts of The Lumbering Dead do verge on the stereotyped [rotund video shop manger for example]
The pages themselves are very full but never cluttered, sometimes containing up to and over 15 frames. This is not a bad thing; in fact it works rather well. The visual highpoint of this comic is, in fact, the exquisite use of fine line detail by Munday, it really is a joy to behold. The artistic style is very sharp and there is a clever and controlled use of line thickness which creates a genuine sense of definition and detail. Each and every frame is clear and carefully composed. The second, equally impressive, feature of Munday’s art work is the outstanding range of facial expressions that he is able to accurately create. From anger to shock, to disgust, to smugness, the list is endless. I don’t think I have ever seen so many different expressions in a single comic before, and every one is beautifully captured and presented. And don’t get me started on the attention to background detail that is a feature of many of the frames; suffice to say that this feature alone is well worth shelling out two quid for.
As I have indicated the narrative in this first instalment goes nowhere fast but Munday does create a set of believable characters, he fleshes out the strained relationships between them and gives them enough irritating features so as to ensure that we remain interested in each and every one of them. He has, in short, set the scene for future narrative development that surely must take place in subsequent editions. I hope that this is the case because I certainly want to find out what happens once the lads get off their backsides and drag their frames down the cinema to watch the movie that gives this comic its name. I only hope that the careful exposition that we have been given here does develop into an interesting storyline otherwise it would be good example of a wasted opportunity , and that would be more than a shame, it would be nothing short of a crime.
In a Word: Waggish.
If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me