When did Roman Dirge get into my head and start writing the type of twisted humor that crops up on a regular basis? Isn’t thought scanning only in speculative fiction? Dirge’s darkly humorous tale of the adventures of a little dead girl brought back to life through mysterious forces made me laugh out loud, groan, smack my forehead, raise my eyebrows (LOTS of eyebrow raising), and thoroughly enjoy myself. I don’t know what it says about me as a person that jokes involving lube, a pitchfork, splinters where the sun don’t shine, and a remote camera broadcasting the removal procedure nationwide nearly have me rolling on the floor, but if you are remotely intrigued, rush to pick up Titan Comics’ latest Lenore compilation, Lenore: Pink Bellies.
In Pink Bellies Lenore and her erstwhile companions, Ragamuffin and Pooty, face off against ghost hunters trying to get national coverage, mysterious soldiers determined to capture the little dead girl, and ancient gods from Taxidermy’s past who want to lock the creepy child guarder up for good. Readers also get a look into Taxidermy’s full back story, find out what really happened to Lenore’s mother, and learn that, yes, Lenore really does love cake that darn much.
I mistakenly had the idea that Lenore was an all-ages comic, so I was both shocked and thrilled at the off-the-wall humor in the first story. Nothing is sacred to Dirge, and he happily lampoons ghost hunter TV shows with the same verve as used to create a storyline with sentient bear poop. Sensitive readers probably won’t enjoy the subversively wrong comedy in Lenore as much as I did, but if your friends have ever told you that you have a weird sense of humor, I’m inclined to think this is probably right up your alley. (People always tell me I have a weird sense of humor.)
Dirge’s artwork isn’t as technically precise as some artists, but it adds the bizarre, through-the-looking-glass feel of Lenore’s story. She’s not supposed to look like a photo of a child; she’s a strange, little girl brought back from the dead. Heck, Taxidermy is wearing some sort of animal head and horns as a mask/face. Something about the style adds to the hilarity, since it’s almost like seeing a child’s drawings used to illustrate a much more adult story. What can I say? I liked it.
Lenore: Pink Bellies includes some bonus content to entice readers who collected each issue separately. This compilation includes some variant cover artwork, including commentary about the covers that were ultimately used, some Lenore artwork from other artists, and a tutorial to make Lenore hand puppets. (No, I am not making the puppet; she might eat me in my sleep or accidentally kill one of the pets!)
Overall, Lenore: Pink Bellies will appeal to a certain type of reader who may be a bit Goth in his or her tastes and loves dubiously tasteful comedy. It’s a comic about a dead kid who has adventures with a stuffed doll that sometimes turns into a vampire and a bucket headed, magical pitchfork-wielding demon after all. Just make sure you’ve eaten before reading; you might start craving cake.
5 Notes Hidden Inside Stuffed Animals out of 5