Posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Dirge Creator(s): Andrew Reed
Publishers: (Self Published)
From: England
Price: £ 2.20 + 2 p and p

Dirge is a fairly bleak title for a comic and that, coupled with the cover picture of a shady looking character sharing a couch with a drugged/dead/ dazed/ zombie(?) female certainly creates a raw and desolate initial impression.. This is indeed a very bleak comic. The opening frame is a close up of a recently murdered man’s face complete with bullet hole in the forehead. The corpse is dumped into a car boot and then tossed off a bridge. Get the idea. Subtle this is not.

We are plunged straight in to the action and initially we do get swept along but unfortunately this dynamic opening is not sustained throughout the 24 pages of this comic.
The story revolves around a character by the name of Dirge Morgan who has just been released from jail after a brief sentence for burglary. With some considerable haste he seems to have plunged straight back into the sordid world of petty crime, serious crime and drug culture.

The heavy use of grey tones throughout the comic just adds to this overwhelmingly desolate atmosphere. Everything is sordid and grimy. The flat he visits is squalid to the extent that I felt the need to have a shower after being there. The characters that inhabit this world are cold and lost beings. This poses a problem as it hard to relate to such a bunch of losers. Hopefully this will change as we get to know Dirge and his associates better in future editions [this is part one of an ongoing title].

The A4 size of the comic plus the fact that many of the pages contain a single frame [indeed few pages have more than 7 frames] does create a feeling of space and gives Reed plenty of space to create his world with. The trouble is that the world he creates is so dark that I question whether we need it presented in this size. I felt the more compact A5 format may have been a more appropriate size for this particular title. It would have created a greater intensity somehow.

There are some problems in this first part that do need to be addressed. One is the grammar and spelling. I suspect that the ‘spell-check’ function has been used but then subsequent proofreading has been superficial, as a result there are some ugly grammatical errors present. In the same way the dialogue is often stilted, artificial and forced. This is surprising because the monologues are very effective. All too often though the characters tell us what we can see and the words don’t so much complement the visuals as reinforce them.

Overall I am yet to be convinced that there is enough in ‘Dirge’ to attract me back, unless someone deals to the odious character called Kevin, now I would be interested in seeing him dumped off the bridge.

In a Word: Stilted.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me