"Lenore: Swirlies" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Books
Written and Illustrated by Roman Dirge
2012, 120 Pages
Graphic Novel released on August 27th, 2012
Roman Dirge's dead little girl returns in the latest collection of Lenore stories. This volume, entitled Swirlies to keep with the trend of awful things that children do to one another, collects the latest batch of Lenore comics and shorts as the deceased kid gets into mischief with her friends Ragamuffin and Pooty.
If you haven't noticed yet, Lenore is a bit of a dark comedy. Very dark. It's hilarious, but you need to be able to see the humor in a kid getting a quick lobotomy before being turned into a parade float at a birthday party. If you can, this is the book for you. The opening story "The Birfday Party" is a strong one and sets the bar incredibly high for the rest of this collection. Lenore finds an invite to a little girl's party and proceeds to unintentionally wreak havoc throughout the whole affair. From the aforementioned brain removal to trampling a number of guests under a pony to inadvertently shooting a hot dog in a place that no one would ever want a hot dog to go. It's a mess for the birthday girl but it's damn funny stuff.
The rest of the Lenore comics are definitely humorous, but they don’t quite hit the laugh factor that the first one does. We're also given a treat in seeing the secret origin of Lenore in the embalming procedure gone awry and the coroner who lost his mind, job, and life as a result.
Dirge has a talent in his writing that makes these comics a little creepy but totally off-the-wall that they're just really fun to read. Lenore comes out with some bizarre things, but they're often thoughts that we'd love to say to others but don't because of social norms. I'd like to recite a list of things that I'd rather do than hang out with that really annoying guy that won't leave me alone.
In addition to the Lenore comics, there are a number of one page stories from Dirge's life. These are quick reads spread throughout Swirlies, but they're just as good as the title character. It's clear that Dirge has had some great life experiences and some that are just plain weird such as getting choked at a restaurant after a patron mistook him for a vampire. They may be unfortunate for him, but it's great for us because we get to read about it in the safety of our homes.
Dirge has a unique art style which I've previously been exposed to in his book Taxidermied. Horrific things happen, but it's light enough to read with a smile on your face. Lenore is a dead girl, but she's not decomposing thanks to all that embalming fluid. She doesn't have pieces falling off her and she doesn't crave brains...although if you were to offer her one she just might accept to add it to her collection. I could see Lenore easily translating into a cartoon, perhaps one on Adult Swim.
Swirlies is a fun read but all too short. Dirge doesn't write nearly as many Lenore comics as he should as this collection (and the three that came before it) are not enough to hold off my sick sense of humor. Lenore is a bit crazy, but at the end of the day she's a kid that just wants to have fun. So what if she does that by planting her friend Ragamuffin in the ground or tossing him into a pool of urine while he sleeps? Are you going to tell me you've never thought of that?