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A Quick One While He’s Away: Graeme and a book that didn’t come out this week after all.

Graeme McMillan

A short one today, because I’m tired and a wuss. It’s been a long and strange week, what can I say?

KING CITY Volume 1: Proof that this whole internet thing has legs: I picked this graphic novel by Brandon Graham up not because I knew anything about it, or was familiar with Graham’s work, but purely because I’d read a couple of positive reviews (by, I think, Chris Butcher and Kevin Church?) and was curious. Luckily, it worked out – This is an unusual but enjoyable book that’s very much of its own thing even as it wears its influences on it’s sleeve. If you added Eduardo Risso, Paul Pope and Pete Fowler together, you’d have something that looked like Graham’s artwork in this book – contemporary, sexy and full of attitude but oddly cute, nonetheless – but it’s art that’s being used in the service of a story that doesn’t entirely match its quality. It comes close; the plot is sprawling, mixing an updated noir kick of good people doing bad things and lost love with fantastical elements (cats as infinite weaponary, zombie wars, self-perpetuating drugs), but its lack of focus is offset by its inventiveness; there are some great concepts in here used just enough (or, in some cases, barely used at all), and none of them outstay their welcome. While the dialogue occasionally seems generic and by-the-numbers – particularly at the start of the book – the narration works better throughout, and is occasionally wonderful (When Joe, the main character, sees the femme fatale of the story: “I bet she’s got just the right amount of eyelids and teeth. Plus a full set of magical equipment. Breasts: The old one-two.”). The end result, though, is a Very Good book that works as a complete piece as much as the first half of a longer story, and perhaps more importantly, leaves you wanting to read the second half almost immediately. If only to see what other things that the impossible cat can do.

Tomorrow: Probably lots of short reviews, because it’s Sunday…

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