But, that’s where a graphic novel like Murder Most Mundane fits right into my otherwise shabby American life. Because as exciting as these charming English countryside village murder mysteries are, I somehow completely forgot that those villages are quite comparable to our small towns. Not your California, 200,000-population small towns, but Midwest 300 to 3000-people small. And, murder just doesn’t happen all that often in those villages – definitely not week after week like they do on television.
That’s the premise behind Murder Most Mundane – and it’s utterly brilliant. A tongue-in-cheek take on these English crime dramas that never takes itself seriously, yet is all the same a murder mystery. A haughty, big-city DCI has just transferred to a village that collectively mourns the sickness and loss of a dog, and a small-village DS doesn’t know the first thing about murder. Oh yes, stereotypes abound in this one. And, within ten minutes of the DCI’s arrival, a murder yields 2999 suspects in a town of 3000.
The brainchildren and writers behind this masterpiece are Ash Deadman and Matt Hardy. Ash asked the right question at the right time (How do so many people die week after week in these small villages?), and Matt decided to run with it. I was shocked to learn that this is a first in comics for some of the creators who worked on the project. The writing not only captures the happenings from television shows that inspired it, but also small village life, with the writers having grown up in villages just like the one in the graphic novel. Minus the murder, of course. Ash Deadman writes in the forward that this is his first time writing, but, with the quality of dialogue and narrative, it’s hard to believe. I hope both he and Matt Hardy go on to pen many more murderous comics.
Likewise, I never would have guessed that this was artist Clark Bint’s first foray into the comic book world. His artwork is perfectly suited for the theme of the graphic novel, and he captures each character in such a way that the reader knows them even with their first lines. Bint truly brings the village of Fadfield to life which is complemented by the beautiful coloring of Edward Bentley. The lettering (Robin Jones) also plays a role in setting the tone of the graphic novel with word flourishes and perfect bubble placement. Be sure to read until the very last page, as there are some interesting facts on the comic book creative process, among other things.
Murder Most Mundane is an exercise in the magical things that happen when artists come together to answer a simple question, probably asked in jest. These creators have a long career ahead of them, not just in the paradoxical world, but with anything they imagine in the mystery / thriller / horror realm.
Creative Team: Ash Deadman and Matt Hardy (writers), Clark Bint (artist), Edward Bentley (colorist), Rob Jones (letterer)
Publisher: Mad Robot Comics
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