Ceej Says… Deadly Burlesque review [Thought Bubble 2014]
Publisher: Freaktown Comics
Writer: Russell Hillman
Artist: Daniel Bell
Letterer: Sergio Calvet
Release Date: 15th November 2014 (Thought Bubble UK)
If you’re looking for pseudo-intellectual dialogue, subtle characterisation or nuanced storytelling, then I’ll be honest, the bulk of Freaktown Comics’ output isn’t really going to appeal to you. If however – like me – you like nothing more than kicking back with a good old-fashioned slasher movie, then you’re definitely in for a treat – particularly with their upcoming release, Deadly Burlesque, set to debut at this year’s Thought Bubble Festival.
A stand-alone story told over 24 pages, Deadly Burlesque takes us to New York’s Bowery in the early 80’s, and introduces us to the ‘Luxury Lounge’, a run-down Burlesque club trying desperately to hold out against the seemingly unending wave of strip joints and peep shows that are threatening to put them out of business. However, when its performers start dropping like flies, a tense game of cat and mouse begins as the remaining survivors are left trying to figure out which one of them is responsible for the killings – before it’s too late.
Once again, writer Russell Hillman keeps things fairly straightforward here, giving us just enough of a whodunit to keep our brain cells firing amidst the brutally creative killing spree. Just like in The Dark of the Forrest, Hillman’s clear affection for movies like Friday the 13th shines through here as he comes up with a variety of brilliantly inventive ways to dispatch the victims. His dialogue also has a darkly humorous undertone to it, with several of the supporting characters – particularly club owner Mr Barnett – providing some genuinely chuckle-worthy moments to help break up the bloodletting. You’re never going to get a tremendous amount of character development in such a limited page count, but Hillman still does an admirable job of defining most of the characters fairly well without disrupting the flow of the massacre too much.
Daniel Bell’s artwork, while not quite as ‘cartoony’ as Sergio Calvet’s work on The Dark of the Forest, actually provides a tad more realism – up until a point, anyway – to the proceedings. He also does a great job of recreating the grimy environment of the club, and in capturing the distinctly 80’s vibe of the comic. The colours are muted and washed out, echoing the bleak setting for the story, the killings are brutal without relying on gratuitous B-Movie gore, and the character designs are all distinctive and easily identifiable once the pace starts picking up.
Overall, as a condensed slasher movie in comicbook form, Deadly Burlesque ticks all the boxes that fans of the genre will be looking for. Creative deaths, brutal violence, twists and turns, glib one-liners – what more could you want? Sure, it may not necessarily qualify as ‘high art’, but dammit if it isn’t a lot of fun to read. Another great release from the folks at Freaktown, who are rapidly cornering the market on the ‘slasher’ comic. Well worth a look.
Deadly Burlesque will be available – along with all of Freaktown’s other impressive titles – at this year’s Thought Bubble Festival on November 15th and 16th. Check them out in Royal Armouries Hall, and also make sure you keep tabs on their Facebook Page for all the latest news.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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