"Killdarlings" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by 1First Comics
Written and illustrated by Dan Schaffer
2016, 152 Pages
Graphic novel released on January 27th, 2016
Nomi and Talula have ascended to a new level of fame as ultramodels. They set the trends that we'll all look to mimic, whether that's the latest fashions and fragrances or killing people and eating them. This superstar status has essentially put them in an entirely different class of humanity. They can literally get away with murder and no one seems to care. Their fans will just continue to worship them and everything they do.
Killdarlings is very reminiscent of Bobcat Goldthwait's 2011 film, God Bless America. I did not care for that movie and I quickly found I had the same sentiment for this graphic novel. There's no real substance with Killdarlings. It's a disjointed mess consisting of wish fulfillment, as Nomi and Talula rampage against everything that's wrong with popular culture today from Kim Kardashian to Justin Bieber.
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There's actually a moment within the book that describes it perfectly. Nomi is at a therapy and she says that her life is normal like a comic book. Her therapist asks her what kind of comic, saying, “Does it have a plot, or is it merely a series of bizarre events haphazardly taped together?” That's exactly what Killdarlings is.
This is unfortunate, because Dan Schaffer's artwork is pretty great. The layout of Killdarlings is unique in that each page looks as if it was found and frantically shoved back into place. It gives the comic the appearance of something you might have found lying on the side of the road or buried in a trunk in an attic for ages. It's would be like exploitation treasure with frayed edges and fold marks. The art style flips back and forth between traditional pencils and CGI graphics. Both are solid with great detail work.
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Fake advertisements featuring Nomi and Talula are interspersed throughout Killdarlings, each more ridiculous and extreme than the last. These serve to break up the chapters, or the “series of bizarre events,” in a fun way. They promote everything from the new criminal look, complete with literal ball and chain to shampoo made from baby seal blubber and the breast milk of nuns.
Killdarlings is a juvenile attempt at Chuck Palahniuk-style tirades against today's society. It's a millennial version of Holden Caufield that is somehow more annoying that the original. It rallies against the current pop culture landscape, but offers no alternative aside from blood and guts. When you have your main characters using their menstrual blood to write on their own walls in ecstasy, your point is somewhat lost.