District 14

By Gabus & ReutimannDistrict 14
Publisher: Humanoids
ISBN: 9781594650567

There are a few books available at the moment using anthropomorphic animals in a crime noir setting, most notably Bryan Talbot’s excellent Grandville and the utterly glorious Blacksad. So, considering Pixar are also developing a movie on a similar footing you’d be forgiven for thinking this was becoming a crowded sub-genre with possibly little else for other creators to offer and explore. And then along comes District 14.

District 14 is a monochromatic story of a bustling city with a 1940s vibe. It’s a busy and chaotic place largely due to an enormous influx of human-like animals and aliens living alongside the people. By and large it’s as harmonious an existence as any other city, but generally the diverse inhabitants are accepted and are thriving in all walks of life.

The story itself follows the arrival of Michael, an anthropomorphic immigrant elephant, escaping a past to begin a new life in the city. Almost immediately he finds himself at odds with the law and rushes headlong into a criminal exchange being staked out by a hidden reporter. In Michael’s attempt to shake off the immigration guards he manages to disrupt the criminals’ meeting, assist in blowing the reporter’s cover, and subsequently save him by tipping a car onto the villains so he and the reporter can make their escape. Grateful, the reporter, a beaver called McKeagh, ends up taking Michael under his wing and helps him settle in the city, but Michael’s actions, and his involvement with the relentless McKeagh, mean things are going to get increasingly complicated.

There’s just so much going on here, and full credit must be given to Gabus’s writing that he allows us the time to explore the city and its characters and fully immerse ourselves in this utterly bizarre but strangely familiar metropolis. Because of how it’s paced Reutimann gets an amazing opportunity to bring the city to life in a unique fashion, blending wonderfully depicted architecture, a strange array of vehicles, and the vast mix of different inhabitants. Against this richly realised background the characters thrive upon the page, and even the supporting characters are given the opportunity to show their fragility and strengths as darker and darker secrets are revealed.

As you’d expect from Humanoids, the book is beautifully presented, with 300 pages of fantastic art and story to enjoy. There’s also a warm and affectionate foreword by Jeff Smith, perhaps the perfect choice given the subject matter – if you’re a fan of Bone then you won’t be disappointed here.

And if you enjoyed that: Get yourself the second book – I’ve got mine…

, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply