Review: Lenore: Cooties

Lenore: Cooties

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Roman Dirge‘s Lenore is about a dead 10-year-old girl. Which is to say, Lenore will basically be a dead 10-year-old girl forever. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by her longevity.

I don’t actually remember when I first knew about Lenore. I knew about the comic although I never really read it, but I do remember watching the animated shorts made for Sony’s Screenblast (you can view them on Dirge’s site). Still, Dirge’s comic, along with Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny the Homicidal Maniac did a lot to bring in non-comics readers to comics, partially due to their sale at mall stores like Hot Topic as well as the two creator’s association with Invader ZIM.

I’m happy Lenore has found at home at Titan Books and Lenore: Cooties (2010, Titan Books) is the third and final volume of Dirge’s original run of Lenore.

This isn’t for everyone. A comic about a dead 10-year-old, her ex-vampire friend who is now in the form of a ragdoll and her obsessive suitor/stalker Mr. Gosh is going to have pretty limited appeal, after all. And then you combine that with all kinds of gross-out humor and gore, and well, this definitely becomes the sort of thing teenagers enjoy giggling over and hiding from their parents.

It’s self-consciously subversive, obviously, but what Dirge is doing here is actually playful. It’s certainly twisted and pretty sick, but it never feels overly cruel. I don’t feel there is a compassion underneath all the comedic gore — that’s not the point of this, after all — but Dirge is obviously having fun seeing what he’ll let himself get away with. It’s hard to not feel a bit charmed by that, even if this isn’t for you.

Dirge’s art has a kind of make-it-up-as-he-goes-along feel to it, with his trademark thick black outlines and handwritten word balloons that threaten to take over some panels. Still, he has a good sense of comedic timing, even when his punchlines are disgusting, and I enjoyed how much it kept throwing the unexpected at me.

(And if the “real life” strip of Dirge’s father scaring him as a child by doing things like hiding under his bed to grab his ankle and hiding in his closet are to be believed, Dirge has obviously come by this perspective naturally.)

The washed-out colors (except for the deep bloody reds) in this edition are a nice addition to the original black-and-white artwork. Also featured is an art gallery, bonus strips, and a foreword by none other than Neil Gaiman, who praises Lenore as his favorite little dead girl in all of literature.

I will say, at this point, you will probably know if Lenore is for you. If it is, you really can’t do any better. For me, it doesn’t quite match up with my sensibilities at this point in my life, but I was more entertained than I expected to be.

Review copy provided by Titan Books.

4 thoughts on “Review: Lenore: Cooties”

  1. I try not to own anything that is sold at Hot Topic, but gradually, my entire childhood will end up on their shelves and self-proclaimed intellectual teenagers with platforms and fake hair will try to tell me that they are wearing a Real Ghostbusters t-shirt because they liked it before it was popular and, incidently, before they were born. *curses*

    In any case, I would like to try some comics that don’t have a major publisher attached in hopes of finding inspired art and thoughtful stories.

    Any suggestions?

  2. What sorts of comics are you interested in finding? And as far as “not a major publisher” goes, do you want mostly self-published stuff?

    Most of the self-published stuff I find is at small press shoes, but some comic book stores will have local mini comics and such. If you let me know what you’re interested in, I could probably point you to a few things.

  3. I would hate to say “I want to read indie comics”, because in saying so, I would sound like s tool who only reads Marvel, but…it’s kind of true.

    Here is your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
    I don’t like very complicated writing. I feel the art should tell most of the story.
    The comics I enjoy most are very personable. Easy-to-relate-to characters in easy-to-relate-to scenarios, from only one character’s perspective.
    I enjoy realism in artwork. I’m an ink snob. I can’t stand sketchy inkers. I prefer analogous color schemes. Some mainstream artists I love are Josh Middleton, Ryan Sook, Terry Dodson, and Chris Bachalo.

    So…what I’m trying to say is…I have no idea what I want to read.

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