Writer: Andrew Foley
Artist: Fiona Staples
I’ll admit that when I first held Done to Death #1 in my hands, I thought it was going to be just another gross-out horror comic. I concentrated more on the content warning at the bottom of the cover than the subtitle: “A Stake Through the Heart of a Whole Bloody Genre.” But, after reading the first tale in this issue, I was rolling on the floor in laughter rather than revulsion! It’s a tale of an editor, Ms. Wade, who has snapped due to the crappy manuscripts she has to read ad nauseam. Sebastian Malpur’s novel (who I take is a normal man posing as a vampire, due to the enlarged canine falsies) is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and Ms. Wade takes her revenge on the man behind the “660 pages of crap.” I think what struck me besides the hilarious premise in this first story is the change-up that Andrew Foley formulates. From the introductory letter and the first two pages of art, I thought Sebastian was going to be the main character of the issue and, maybe, the series. Instead, he is dead on the floor by page seven, leaving readers with a much more interesting and colorful character. Yes, Done to Death certainly does mix things up using normal horror conventions, imparting genuinely funny moments of parody for fans. Despite an overall feeling of two jokes being told rather than seeds being planted for a series, Done to Death #1 is a fun issue that adult comic readers will surely enjoy.
Two stories, two macabre jokes pointed at the horror genre, specifically the vampire section of the genre. Just like the first tale, the second story begins with a prototypical setup, as a mysterious creature poses as a limo driver for an egotistical horror director. After leaving a movie premiere, the stuttering creature rears its ugly head by running the limo into a telephone pole, causing a pair of unique injuries for the director and his lovely escort (since SBC is a family website, I can’t go into the particular details of these "injuries," but for those readers out there adult enough to appreciate it, this was a gruesome cause-and-effect you have to see to believe!). After the creature, revealed to have multiple mouths with razor-sharp teeth, attacks and dismembers the director, he turns his attention to the escort. Before he pounces, the woman says, “Do I know you?” The creature, all mouths open in apparent shock (A fantastic image!), answers, “Janeane?” From there, we have a reunion of two old high school classmates who had a crush on each other that was never consummated. What a great play on the genre! The panel displaying the bare buttocks of the director’s dismembered corpse, laying in a pool of blood, while Andy (the creature) and Janeane talk about high school crushes was hilarious. In the end (SPOILER WARNING!!), Andy’s hideous nature overpowers any feelings he has for Janeane, so he kills her and, while crying in remorse, tenderly kisses and eats her lovely hand. Wow, a killer ending to be sure! As I said, I see the two stories in this first issue as jokes with a definite punch-line, so I don’t quite see how this series will progress, unless the two main characters are exclusive to this first issue only. But taken at face value, the two jokes are funny enough to sustain this issue, creating an uncommonly amusing experience that horror fans will surely enjoy.
Another element that fans will love from this issue is the wonderfully distinctive artwork by Fiona Staples. Her work was another reason I thought this was going to be a straight horror comic, but after reading the issue, I realized that her style reinforces Foley’s parody. Every jagged line and washed-out color is filled with grit and hilarious urgency, making the art as much of a player in the jokes as the words. The terrified look on Sebastian’s face as he is attacked by Ms. Wade, or the look of boyish curiosity on the face of Andy as he realizes the object of his desire is within reach, add an extra layer to the comedy that is welcome and effective. Staples’ work reminds me of Ben Templesmith’s, but with more apparent clarity, which is crucial in setting the tone for comedy rather than terror. Staples does a fine job in this first issue, and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.
In closing, Done to Death #1 is a great example of parody that will still entertain those who don’t read or watch horror fiction. My only concerns are the seemingly fractured nature of the first issue (do these two tales relate?) and the impression that this might be a one-trick-pony. Here’s to hoping Issue #2 is as entertaining as the first.
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