Drumhellar, the latest series from Riley Rossmo and Alex Link, the team behind the disturbingly brilliant Rebel Blood, is nearly impossible to categorise. There are aspects of mystery, horror, romance, and – of course – sheer unfiltered surrealism. However, rather than turning into an unfocused mess, the creators manage to blend these different threads together into an utterly bizarre, yet incredibly rewarding reading experience.
Rossmo’s artwork is of its usual magnificent high standard throughout, and his recreation of the small town, rural setting is pretty much flawless (helped no doubt by the extensive research he carried out in Drumheller, Alberta). We also get flashes of his nearly unmatched flair for the surreal, particularly during some of main character Drum’s frequent psychedelic hallucinations, and also in the recreation of some of the more ‘out there’ supporting characters.
The co-creators have built an extremely intriguing protagonist in Drum Hellar, a seemingly drug-addled bohemian private investigator with more baggage than he knows what to do with, and one of the main thrills in this first issue is in getting to know this curious creation. The overarching story is left fairly ambiguous for the time being, featuring only vague hints of a coming threat that Drum will have to deal with, leaving the main focus of this first issue to establishing the primary characters and the world they inhabit.
That’s not to say there isn’t a lot going on here though, because this is still a comic that features werewolves, a bog man, an imaginary (or perhaps not so imaginary) cat friend, and an extremely complex relationship between Drum and his ex-girlfriend. The non-werewolf ex-girlfriend, that is.
Link and Rossmo have put together a beautifully rendered, fantastically compelling world. A dream-like, surrealist reality that serves a backdrop for some brilliantly realised characters. I’m fully aware that the surrealist style of storytelling may not be for everyone, but this is a comic that grabbed me from the opening pages and simply refused to let go. And the fact that almost every panel is absolutely gorgeous certainly doesn’t hurt matters.
So sit back, open your mind, and take a trip to Drumhellar. You won’t regret it.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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