Blank Slate Books.
An infectious blast of psychedelic comic insanity, Death And The Girls is a trip and a half taking a trio of sweary sisters deep into the Mexican desert, with a lovesick Death in pursuit. It’s a manic, hallucinatory dash of a comic that passes by conventional storytelling somewhere around page 3 and never looks back.
Death And The Girls is all about the Nubian Sisters; Betsy, Bunny and Batstone and their drunken escapades through a landscape that’s part drug-fuelled nightmare, part adventures in Wonderland.
It’s Mexico. Which means Tequila.
Lots of Tequila.
Problem is, Tequila nights means Tequila mornings after, yet as bad as those may be, as head poundingly miserable, nothing you’ll ever experience on Tequila or in the hangover the morning after will be as weird and hallucinatory as Betsy’s morning after experience. Washing her smalls turns into a demented and disturbed threesome with the animated and ever so fertile washing machine and a just happens to be passing Grim Reaper himself.
No, it was never going to end well, but again, no-one expects Betsy to get knocked up by the washing machine, and certainly no-one expects Death to wind up amorously obsessed with poor Betsy, pursuing the girls across Mexico.
Why? Just because.
Think Scooby Doo with more colourful language, no mystery and no annoying scooby gang, just three out of control girls, who drink and screw their way through the day, with their comedy monster chasing them being ol’ Death himself, pursuing the trio across a landscape that gets weirder and weirder as the book goes on. Or maybe Adventure Time for grown-ups?
Whatever you do, the best way to get into Death And The Girls is simply to throw yourself in, casting abandon aside, give up looking for the sense here, just buckle in and enjoy the ride. Magic donkeys, flying motorbikes, a Mexican landscape that soon turns into something dreamlike, a swamp of the dead, Polynesia’s outdoor Tesco, a Princess who just hates the boys, and more weirdness on each and every page.
The language is ripe, the girls just talking over each other, almost stream of consciousness stuff at times, Todd puts her speech bubbles all over the place in her panels at times, but it all adds to the effect, a loud, brash, heady elixir of a comic. Todd’s ideas and her art are one and the same, a freewheeling affair, full of fluid, organic shapes, bug-eyed figures, sexy curves, disconnected bits of bodies, odd surreal shapes that float over the background, everything somehow feeling that little bit sweaty, debauched, out of control.
The Mexican influences are right up there in the mix, and there’s a feel of older alt-comix, underground artists, biker art, grafitti art, but more than anything else I see loads of Chester Brown and most especially Julie Douchet in Todd’s work, the non-narrative madness Todd throws at the comic page is exactly the sort of thing I loved back in the 80s and 90s. It’s only now I ealise I’ve missed it.
The madness just keeps on and on and on, from start to end, visually dynamic and inventive as hell, loads of fun. The intensity of Todd’s delivery makes this 48-page book seem way longer, the end result being a near immersion in the crazy psychedelic sugar rush of weirdness Todd delivers. It might be a sugar rush too much for some, but what a rush, what a rush. Great stuff, Todd should be marked down as one to watch, yet another great UK comic artist on the verge of great, great things.
And dammit, it’s funny as hell at times…
A page of setup, just to get to Batstone faceplanting in the muck, and the payoff is all in Bunny’s eyeroll. Class.
Death And The Girls is available from all good comic shops, and of course, the FPI webstore.