Writer: Dave Cook
Artwork: Donna A. Black
Lettering: Rob Jones
Design: Paul Carroll
Currently funding on Kickstarter until Sunday April 3rd (CLICK HERE)
“It’s a tragedy when we appraise people only by their creative worth. What will my life’s metascore be when I’m dead?”
Struggling with crippling writer’s block in the wake of his friend’s death, a nameless novelist takes a trip to a quiet rural town to try and get his head straight and his inspiration flowing again. Here he finds himself waging a battle against his own doubts and insecurities, a battle which turns into a truly horrifying ordeal. Will he finish his eagerly-awaited second book, or will the creative process destroy him altogether?
Currently funding on Kickstarter until this Sunday, Deadliner is the latest offering from Scottish writer Dave Cook, who teams up here with artist Donna A. Black to deliver a harrowing insight into the cruel realities of creative doubt, imposter syndrome and the struggles of trying to push through a suffocating deadline. It’s likely that many of us will relate to our nameless protagonist’s struggles, albeit to a greater or lesser extent, and seeing both Cook and Black lean into the more horrific and unsettling effects these feelings can have on an individual makes for a gripping yet deeply uncomfortable read.
On the visual side of things, Black utilises a visceral and disquieting visual style that perfectly mirrors the spiraling emotions of our leading man. The striking mixed media approach really helps to underscore the frenzied emotional beats which take place throughout the course of this story, featuring a barrage of unsettling images and intentionally jarring panels. The colours are striking when required, ebbing and flowing throughout the course of the book, and letterer Rob Jones deserves a huge amount of credit for keeping things flowing as well as they do, leading us by the terrified hand through Black’s kaleidoscope of anxiety.
This is a comic that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve, from the Silent Hill-esque descent into madness to the Twin Peaks style surrealist small town discomfort, and it really goes to show just how much of a chameleon Cook is as a writer. After all, it was only at the start of this month that I was singing the praises of BPM: Beatdowns Per Minute, his bombastic love letter to classic beat-’em-up video games, a book which, let’s be honest, probably couldn’t be more different from this one if it tried.
As I mentioned above, the themes covered in this story will likely resonate with a great many readers, this one included, and while several moments have been exaggerated for horrific effect, there’s still a worryingly relatable tone to a lot of our protagonist’s inner monologue and the crippling doubts and anxieties he struggles to push his way through. This is the kind of comic where you need to take a moment to catch your breath after reading, and I’d highly recommend checking out the Kickstarter while you still can to grab yourself a copy.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]