Publisher: Source Point Press
Writer: Michael Fleizach, Todd Hunt
Artwork: Dave Mims
Lettering: Zack Turner
Release Date: 28th July 2021
Inspired by the journals of co-writer Michael Fleizach’s brother, who passed away from a heroin overdose, Source Point Press’ Darling continues this week as our loveable anti-hero Francis Darling finds himself increasingly drawn into the situation surrounding the missing eight-year-old girl, all while trying to deal with his own personal demons and vices.
This latest issue sees Francis touching base with his rather eccentric (to say the least) dealer before we’re given a fairly heartbreaking look into his formative years through the eyes of his own mother. From here, we get a chance to meet some of the more disgusting denizens of 1980s New York City and get a little more insight into the situation surrounding the youg girl’s disappearance during an increasingly intense final few pages.
Before I get started, it’s worth pointing out that Darling is a wildly unconventional comic book, both in terms of visual style and narrative delivery. Therein lies its appeal though, and watching Francis Darling being dragged further and further down this disorienting rabbit hole makes for a thoroughly engaging reading experience. Fleizach and co-writer Todd Hunt deliver some striking, eloquent and unashamedly quirky dialogue here, the bulk of it coming from the newly-introduced Director and his interactions with his silent assistant “Mister Finch”.
Dave Mims brings a striking punk graffiti aesthetic to the visuals, blending an impressively light touch with some rich colours and brief bursts of energy and animation. Much like the writing, everything here feels more a little unusual, but in a good way, y’know? There’s a scratchy flow to the artwork that really helps to sell the erratic tone of a book that has been described as “a bit like chasing the Mad Hatter through a toxic chemical cloud”, and I absolutely love it. Hell, even Zack Turner’s lettering feels unconventional, packed as it is into jagged, thick-bordered word balloons and scratchy pockets of narration and inner monologue.
For me, this perhaps wasn’t quite as strong an issue as the opener, taking the focus away from loveable and disarmingly human Francis in favour of the admittedly rather entertaining Director. It certainly helps to establish the increasingly twisted tone of the story though, not to mention the looming drug war that seems poised to engulf NYC, but I’d have liked to see a little more of Darling himself here. It’s still a fantastically unique slice of sequential art, and a story I’m definitely going to be following until its conclusion.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]