In Review: Drowntown Book One

Downtown Book Oneby Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Out: 20th June 2013

The Book: An epic adventure set in a flooded futuristic London that hurls down-at-heel minder Leo Noiret head first into a web of intrigue, murder, revenge and psychotic talking chimpanzees…

In Drowntown, the world has changed forever, ravaged by climatic upheaval. The flooded metropolis of London has adapted to the rising sea levels, remaining a centre for international commerce and a magnet for environmental refugees. The elite gaze out over the ever-expanding Thames from their ivory towers, while the denizens of submerged pubs peer into the sunken streets like specimens in an aquarium.

Hired by notorious underworld figure Alexandra Bastet, Leo Noiret – a Minder – uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that stretches from the depths of Drowntown to the highest echelons of power and influence.Struggling aqua-courier Gina Cassel learns that young love can be a dangerous game when she becomes romantically involved with the heir to the Drakenberg Corporation, which aims to control both the environment and the future of human evolution.

There’s a storm brewing in Drowntown, with Gina and Noiret at its heart.

The Review: Drowntown is an impressive debut for a new series, and not just because it’s a terrific adventure, but because it’s a title that again places Jonathan Cape on a par with many European graphic novel publishers, a market they clearly have one eye on in terms of creating titles that will compete with the best of the French bande dessines publishers.

Committing to an ongoing serialised graphic novel adventure series is not without risk in uncertain times, so full marks to Cape for giving it a full-on go.

The book itself – beautifully produced, by the way – is a non-stop roller coaster of invention and inspired ideas, as accomplished creators Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray introduce the characters and an intriguing plot, centring on a fabulously wealthy woman, Bastet, Empress of the Nile, who is trying to trace her roots. There’s obviously something hugely dangerous about this in the minds of various Machiavellian forces, and investigator Leo Noiret soon finds himself up to his neck in trouble as he begins his investigations – ironically, a position he’s in physically when we first meet him!

Morrison quickly fleshes out characters and plot with aplomb while Murray’s gorgeous art ensures this is a thrilling no-holds barred adventure from start to finish… Which of course is a tantalising cliffhanger.

There’s plenty to enjoy about Drowntown: not just its increasingly complex central characters, each with their own secrets and foibles, but the setting, beautifully realized by Murray, and the inventive incidental cast (which includes talking rats and murderous chimpanzees).

There’s no reason this book shouldn’t be a success… And of course if it is, then we get to read the rest of the story in subsequent volumes, which I certainly want to do… So get out there and buy a copy!

• Robbie and Jim have set up a blog to detail progress on the project offering insider art, designs and more at http://drown-town.blogspot.co.uk

• Order your copy at your local book or comic shop, or or at Amazon.co.uk

Find Robbie Morrison on Google+

• Jim Murray’s Art Blog: http://jimmurrayart.blogspot.co.uk

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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