Writer Nick Bryan has a knack for tackling weighty issues with a light touch, without diminishing the emotional impact of his stories. I enjoyed his beautifully dark, gently surreal and […]
Writer Nick Bryan has a knack for tackling weighty issues with a light touch, without diminishing the emotional impact of his stories. I enjoyed his beautifully dark, gently surreal and genuinely poignant comic The Little Deaths of Watson Tower, drawn by Rosie Alexander, along with the much more colourful Fairyfare (another collaboration with Alexander). When Bryan got in touch and asked if I’d like to check out his new comic, I jumped at the chance.
Death of a Necromancer – which is currently in the middle of its Kickstarter campaign – is Bryan’s new comic, illustrated by Robert Ahmad (who Bryan previously collaborated with on another Kickstarter-funded comic – And It Snowed – and also The Catalyst one-shot). Far more ambitious in scope than those previous collaborations, Death of a Necromancer is a full colour, 114-page graphic novel in four chapters (with colour by David Cooper and letters by DC Hopkins). Though the Kickstarter campaign is intended to fund all four chapters, each of them will be released as they’re completed – with the first complete and ready to send to backers once the crowdfunding campaign ends; it’s chapter one that I’ve been fortunate enough to get an early read of.
Dying on the way out of his successful job interview at his small town’s new fast food shop – Deadless Chicken – Ralph Foster still ends up as the Head Chef. That’s because shop owner Dr Victoria Hedgewood is a necromancer, running a rather profitable sideline in reanimating the town’s corpses. Turns out that the deep-fried chickens are both tasty and the sacrifices which power the dark magic that brings the dead back to life. Yet along with the fee to bring back the dead, Ralph discovers that there’s another, unforeseen cost to returning to life. Is he really himself? Are any of the town’s reanimated inhabitants the same people they were before they shuffled off (and then shuffled back on) their mortal coils? When a prank he plays on his best friend goes horribly wrong, it leads Ralph to question his place in the new world of the living and the dead – which looks like it’ll lead to severe consequences for everyone who’s come back…
This first chapter is brilliantly written, with Bryan getting readers up to speed on the world and its magical rules without weighing down – or slowing the pace of – the story. Ahmad’s art – which brought to mind a unique combination of Archie Comics, Darwyn Cooke and Tim Burton – is cartoony, but beautifully detailed and stylised; though those aforementioned influences are there, the art gives Death of a Necromancer a brilliantly kooky and appealing look, despite the slightly dark – albeit blackly humourous – subject matter.
As with Bryan’s other work, there’s a humourous aspect to the tale despite some dark, potentially grim themes – and there are some genuinely poignant moments sprinkled throughout the chapter too. Bryan always seems to handle death and its impact on the living in unusual ways; that’s definitely the case here (especially as we also get to see how death even affects the dead themselves).
There’s also a nicely detailed look at the way that necromancy works in the comic’s universe – which pays off with some very intriguing developments by the final page. It’s a great read and is incredibly involving – and I’m already desperate to read the second part after reaching the cliffhanger of Chapter One.
If you want to get hold of the first chapter yourself, head on over to the Kickstarter page and give this very deserving project your support – there’s numerous tiers which will give you access to digital or physical copies of the comic (with each chapter to be delivered as it’s completed in digital form), as well as art prints, commissions and even the original art on offer! Additionally, there are add-ons which will allow you to catch up on Bryan’s previous work, including his prior collaborations with Ahmad.
All chapters are expected to be complete by November 2022, so backers of the full physical volume should receive their copies of the book soon after (though if you’re as impatient as I am, you’ll be reading each chapter as it arrives instead of waiting for the fully completed story!).
You can check out and back Death of a Necromancer on Kickstarter here. Many thanks to Nick Bryan for providing me with Death of a Necromancer Chapter One for review.
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