Drawn & Quarterly
Written and drawn by Brian Ralph
Oct 19, 2011 Web Exclusive
Is the genre of a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world a little oversaturated right now? Maybe. But Brian Ralph's art, sensibilities, and perspective make this quite refreshing, unique, and enjoyable. Giving the reader a place in the story as the POV character is really interesting, and adds a personal investment in the stakes that a typical second-person narration couldn't. It appeals in a way that basically invokes a gamer aesthetic, 1988, à la the old ICOM point and click games such as Shadowgate and Uninvited. I don't know that it's a device that would work very often, or for a work that's much longer than Daybreak's 160 pages, but it definitely works here.
The two-tone art of the book helps paint a bleak picture better than full color could and also puts the spotlight on Ralph's expressive cartooning and effective use of space. Your initial guide in this world of desperate survival is an affable-yet-rugged one-armed man, who is surprisingly capable. His generous spirit and common sense are an excellent contrast with the few other characters you meet along the way; while you can understand where most of the other survivors are coming from, the one-armed man's good nature in the most dire of circumstances help raise the stakes and quicken the blood when things go awry.
There's not so much zombie fighting, just a bit. They are less antagonist and more just another aspect of the weather, so to speak, in this man-against-nature story. It's a fresh look at the comics medium and a story that ascends above the genre trappings. Great book. (www.drawnandquarterly.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10