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Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse – Vol. 1 and 2. Ben Templesmith November 6, 2008

Posted by Cyd in fantasy, graphic novel.
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Volume 1: Birds, Bees, Blood & Beer, Volume 2: It Only Hurts When I Pee. Writing and artwork by Ben Templesmith.

I finally got my hands on the first two volumes of Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, after already having read Volume 3: Calamari Rising. I had been wondering if the first volume provided back-story for Wormwood, but it doesn’t really. Instead, little bits of information about who he is and what he’s about are sprinkled throughout the stories. I prefer this approach, it’s more interesting than reading prologues or introductions.

Wormwood, Vol.1

There are a few main characters. Wormwood is a sentient slug living in the eye socket of an animated corpse. His friends include Trotsky, a ghost cop, Mr. Pendulum, mechanical sidekick who looks like a member of ZZ Top (circa 1985), and Phoebe, one of Medusa’s sisterhood of gatekeepers. Somehow, Templesmith makes all of this seem sensible.

Ben Templesmith is a hugely talented artist, and the artwork in the books is excellent. Rich, dark colours and odd looking characters inhabit a dreary world that wouldn’t be out of place in a Ridley Scott movie. His artwork sometimes reminds me of that of Dave McKean.

Wormwood, Vol. 2

The stories, though, are the best part. They are funny, satirical, and very off-the-wall. The strangest things happen, and stories are resolved in most unexpected ways. He sneaks in some very subversive bits (for example, secret communications between the Vatican and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in “Segue to Destruction” in Volume 2) that are terrific.

I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. I’ll just say that reading these books was the most fun I’ve had with a graphic novel. I recommend them to anyone looking for something truly original.

Both books include extra artwork and cover art at the end. More artwork can be found on Templesmith’s website – it’s worth having a look.

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