29th Mar2015

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Lenore – Pink Bellies’

by Phil Wheat

Created by Roman Dirge | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardcover, 120pp


Though I’ve always been aware of Lenore and read the odd collection, I have to admit up front that the series has never quite meshed with me. I can find its dark humour amusing from time to time, but it’s part of a culture that I was never around (namely, late 80’s/early 90’s disaffected Goth culture) and so don’t quite ‘get’ its appeal.

Perhaps it’s because in a world where everything these days has to work on at least 20 different levels to appear worthy of being included in our cultural lexicon, my brain has trouble digesting a story which is just about a dead girl dicking about with her mates. However, in the interests of fairness, Lenore: Pink Bellies seems to have better structure and storytelling chops than prior work I’ve read of Dirge’s.

Concerning the story of a mischievous dead girl who has adventures with her friends that take odd twists, Lenore takes its time this volume. A bunch of cynical MTV types visit Lenore’s house, looking to exploit its history for their own uses in a ‘Most Haunted’ style show. In doing so, they end up dead but also prove the existence of ghosts to the entire watching world. From them on on, things only get worse, as Lenore and her gang are pursued by soldiers, ancient gods that haven’t peed for thousands of years and a sentient pickle hat that was accidentally brought to life.

As you may be able to tell, it’s not really a story that is too concerned with plot, instead preferring to dive in and out of it at whim whilst taking amusing side paths. Some of the deaths could be counted as gruesome, but due to Dirge’s cartoony style it never feels it. But the story seems to be more interested in Lenore and her buddies mucking about and poking each other in the arse with pitchforks than building up inevitable doom. As I said, dark humour, even if it takes that route via a lot of scatological laughs.

I think in the end Lenore: Pink Bellies is just something you will have to take a risk on. Even though after a few read throughs I could sink into the rhythm of it, I have to admit it wasn’t aimed at me. That’s fine though! Not everything should be. Even if it’s not my cup of tea, that Roman Dirge is able to create entire comics himself, from conception, through drawing, inking and then onto publishing is impressive. That singular vision is quite refreshing, compared to the ‘comics by committee’ approach that is the norm at bigger publishers.

If you think this won’t appeal to you, but you have kids, get it for them. They’ll enjoy the fun of it all, which is what comics were originally all about.

To those who are already fans, buy Lenore: Pink Bellies and you won’t be disappointed. To those who are sitting on the fence? This collected volume will cost you less than a meal if you went out on your own for the day. Buy it, try it and if you like it, buy more. If not, you have been exposed to a different experience that will enrich how you view comics as a whole.

When you think of it like that, it’s not really that bad a deal, is it?

Lenore: Pink Bellies is out now from Titan Comics.


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