By Aitor I ErañaRIP 1
Publisher: Kettledrummer Books
ISBN: 9788415153658

Set in the graveyard of Saint Stool, this is a collection of cartoon strips about its ghoulish inhabitants who are attempting to make the best of their afterlives. The main protagonist is Raph, the new gravedigger, and it’s through his eyes that we get to meet the various creepy folk that live and work within the cemetery.

First and foremost there’s Death – of whom the creator acknowledges a tip of the hat to Terry Pratchett – who’s just doing his job, and loves it. There’s Al, the long-serving gardener, who appears to have some rather odd connection with the the foliage of the cemetery that’s yet to be explained, there’s Boris the somewhat hopeless vampire who struggles to pay the rent on his tomb, and there’s a family of ghosts, of which the dad is a British author who is still sending his manuscripts in to a rather perplexed and terrified publisher. ZH is a zombie who attempted to break out of his tomb to feast on brains, but they managed to get the stone lid back on in time so now only his arm protrudes, and somehow his hand has obtained drawn on eyes and teeth, like a naked puppet, making him Zombie Hand, or ZH for short. And there’s more, including a couple of ravens, witches, a werewolf, a human fly and the obvious paranormal investigator.

The structure of the strip is essentially Raph just trying to get on with his job around these somewhat bizarre residents and co-workers, so much of the humour is drawn from his interactions with them and their foibles. And there are some cracking gags too, both visually and written. I rather liked the goth ghost, black of course, who hates being dead and yearns to be reincarnated.

Eraña’s style manages to mix a little bit of Penny Arcade with a touch of manga, and he knows his way around a digital colour palette, so it looks good too. Some of the subject matter and language means this is suited for older teens and above (my daughter loved it), but that shouldn’t harm it’s success in any way. It knows who its audience is and plays to them, and that’s a bit refreshing in these times where so many strips are generic and bland in an attempt to appeal to everyone.

And if you liked that: Grab a copy of Little Death


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