Silent comics – so difficult to review, yet the good ones can be so compelling that they deserve to be reviewed, and Bob Turner’s DTHRTL (that is Death Rattle to the non-text savvy amongst us) is definitely deserving of a review.
Issue 1 introduces readers to our hero (remember that this is a silent comic so there are no names of people or places for a reviewer to use) who is visited by Death. To avoid his own death, he convinces Death to play Rock-Paper-Scissors with him and he wins, allowing him to escape from the immediate danger. He then travels on a long journey away from his home, through forests, over mountains and seas, a journey that due to its inherent danger death and therefore Death himself is never far away. Arriving in a land where the inhabitants do not look like him, he sees a huge monster attacking a home and goes to the rescue.
Created, written, illustrated and coloured by Bob Turner and published under his Castle Rock Comics imprint, DTHRTL is a 24 page, full colour, A5 comic that will tell its story over three issues – the second is already available and the third is currently being worked on. Bob’s art is heavily stylised, although not annoyingly so (to an old Doctor Who fan his eye-ball headed hero invokes memories of Alpha Centauri from the two Peladon stories) and his page format uses multiple panels even when they are all showing small sections of a single splash image. It all makes for a unique look while the bright crisp printing on card also helps the comic feel substantial.
As there are no printed words the conversation with Death at the beginning, as our hero talks his way out of his own death, is conveyed using pictograms allowing the reader a better understanding of the initial plot set-up. While they rarely appear later on in the story this does not detract from the storytelling as by that point the reader has become used to the visual language of the comic as the plot builds to a cliff-hanger ready for issue 2.
With DTHRTL Bob Turner has created a quite unique looking tale that deserves a wider audience. It is the sort of small press comic that, provided the following two issues maintain the standard of issue 1, I could see being picked up by one of the bespoke graphic novel publishers in the future to be published as a book.
There are more details of DTHRTL on the Castle Rock Comics blog.
DTHRTL can be purchased from the Castle Rock Comics e-shop.
Tony Esmond’s downthetubes review of DTHRTL 1 is here.
Bob Turner will be selling DTHRTL 1 and 2 at the Edinburgh Comic Con in the EICC in Edinburgh’s West End on the weekend of 2/3 April 2016.