"Identity Thief" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Fanboy Comics
Written by Bryant Dillon
Illustrated by Meghan O'Keefe
Graphic novel published in September 2012
Ahh, young love. It's the kind of thing that can drive you crazy or drop everything and move across the country just to be with someone. Craig did the latter, but the jury is still out on the former in Identity Thief. Everything seems pretty great at first as he and Daphne move in together, but something's not right about their apartment and it has to do with their attic. Every time Craig goes in to investigate the strange noises coming from it, he gets distracted, but there's definitely something up there. Every night it comes out and crawls around their home, touching things and exploring, only to scurry back into its lair by morning. Its intentions are unclear but it's damn creepy.
This would be enough to make Identity Thief a scary and rather unsettling comic. The idea of home invasion, or in this case an intimate invasion of privacy, is unnerving. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to check the locks on your doors and windows every night before going to bed. Even that might not mean you're safe if there's a creature already inside your house. What is it and how did it get there? What does it want? Why is it touching these things?
This idea is creepy on its own, but Meghan O'Keefe's depiction of the monster amplifies the terror. I've been sitting here for a few minutes struggling to provide a description of this thing and the closest I can come to is a Mynock (the things that were chewing on the Millennium Falcon's power cables in The Empire Strikes Back when they flew into what they thought was a planet). That's not weird enough though. If you start there and then add long, disjointed limbs and claw-like fingers and take away the face, you're close. The very image of this creature is startling from the moment it first appears. As the story continues, it starts to evolve, changing its appearance to be akin to the stuff of nightmares.
|Click images to enlarge|
Unfortunately, the rest of Identity Thief is rather uneven in the art department. While O'Keefe draws a helluva monster, her people are often misshaped or blocky. They are depicted in awkward positions and look unnatural. I'm sure one could argue that Craig's appearance specifically would grow darker as the story progresses, but there's a difference between an altered look and something that doesn't look like a person at times.
Author Bryant Dillon has some great ideas in the setup for Identity Thief, but doesn't fill the pages with a lot of dialogue or exposition. He allows O'Keefe's images do the storytelling. As a result, I was frequently confused as to what exactly was happening. Between the dark coloring, strange shaped people, and lack of text, it was difficult to follow certain scenes.
Identity Thief has a great core concept that is scary on its own. Given a little more insight into the creature or some guidance for the reader as to what's going on in some key sections, it would be an excellent and terrifying read. As it stands, I was left a tad confused, but still scared enough to make sure that nothing was lurking in the attic before shutting the lights out.