‘Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl’ is the dark comedy brain child of comic writer/artist/letterer/everything-elser Roman Dirge. Inspired by the poem ‘Lenore’ by Edgar Allan Poe, Dirge’s comics tell the story of a young deceased child and her incredibly bizarre friends (sentient ragdoll Ragamuffin and bucket-headed bounty hunter Pooty) living in the town of Nevermore. ‘Pink Bellies’ collects issues 8-11 of Volume II of Dirge’s Lenore; a four issue arc that reveals the previously untold origins of Lenore’s super-creepy wood-dwelling buddy Taxidermy, pits the newly Vampire-d rag-doll Ragamuffin against the ancient Egyptian God Anubis and basically all Hell breaks loose!
The first thing I noticed when picking up this book is that the hardcover itself is just gorgeous. With its burgundy frame and glossy portrait-style picture of the titular character, it really is a stunning looking book to behold. At first, this can make the interior art seem a little off, but as you read through the bizarre misadventures of Lenore, Ragamuffin and Pooty, the art is so fitting for the story it’s telling. Dirge manages to perfectly straddle the line between adorable and incredibly creepy, and whilst some scenes are particularly gruesome, this is balanced wonderfully by Dirge’s off-colour humour. Let me make a point of saying this; this book is hilariously funny. From the fairly juvenile jokes around things accidentally going up bums, to much more subtle, dark humour, this book had me giggling like a schoolchild on practically every other page.
This arc tells a very satisfying story of Lenore’s pal Taxidermy and his history with Lenore and her family (no spoilers here, never fear!) though I have to admit that I felt that the storytelling often chooses to focus on Lenore mucking about with her mates, rather than on the more salient parts of the overall arc. That being said, the unconventional elements of Lenore are often it’s most charming. Dirge’s somewhat scratchy and often crammed-in lettering style gives the book a less-than-perfect yet labour-of-love feel, and it’s a pleasure to behold.
I understand that Lenore is not everyone’s cup of tea, with it’s Goth sensibilities and dark humour, however I highly recommend it to anyone to whom that sounds appealing. As a comparison, Lenore reminds me in tone of Jamie Smart’s Ubu Bubu (also a HUGE recommendation from me) in that it is cute, cuddly, terrifying, gross, hilarious and brilliant all at once.
Title: Lenore: Pink Bellies
Publisher: Titan Comics
Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)