Full Dislosure: JimJoe – Den of Thieves was published by Dog Ear Publishing – a vanity publishing house. This note is included as a courtesy to those libraries that have a policy against adding such materials to their collections.
In order to off-set some of the negativity that is to follow in this review, I’ll say this much for JimJoe – Den of Thieves at the start: with a six-year-old dropping the F-dash-dash-dash word on Page Three and the most prominent female character in the story being introduced to us through a gratuitous nude scene, JimJoe – Den of Thieves makes it abundantly clear from the beginning that it is not suitable reading material for children. Unfortunately, it’s not suitable reading material for adults either.
The story opens on six-year-old Arrow Brown (or Harrow Brown, depending on the page) fleeing for his life from an unseen assailant. This is JimJoe – Arrow’s imaginary friend, who is quite real and pushing Arrow to do bad and/or dangerous things. JimJoe disappears shortly after Arrow is hospitalized after being hit by a bus while fleeing JimJoe.
Twenty years later, Arrow runs his own car-customization business and is married with a six-year-old son of his own – a son named Aspen, who has started talking to an imaginary friend named JimJoe. In short order, Aspen is using curse words, the family dog is almost strangled to death, and Arrow himself is nearly killed after Aspen plays with the buttons at Arrow’s garage, nearly dropping a car on top of him because JimJoe told him to. In order to save their family and their sanity, father and son will team-up with an understanding psychiatrist and an old priest who may be the only one who recognizes JimJoe for what he truly is…
The script of this book is made up of the worst horror movie clichés imaginable. It offers no unique spin on the done and overdone idea of a child’s imaginary friend turning out to be a real monster. The characters are all cardboard cut-outs that conform to the usual stereotypes, with the old priest being an alcoholic with an ever-ready hip flask. Of course Arrow’s wife of eight years doesn’t believe a word of his crazy story about a murderous imaginary friend and immediately starts treating him like a crazed lunatic killer who is only just now showing signs of being a psychopath who will drag their son down with him. Yet Dr. Ziggy, a psychiatrist client of Arrow’s who promised him a favor after Arrow pimped out his car, completely believes Arrow’s story despite only having met him once before!
The artwork of the book is equally amateurish. The entire book is rendered in a series of uninked pencil sketches. This becomes problematic during the night scenes, which are rendered on a solid gray background. The box-placement is awkward on several pages, with the story flow difficult to follow. Worst of all, the artwork has as many continuity problems as the writing, with the pregnant Rachel’s enlarged stomach disappearing completely in some panels!
Even the book’s back-cover speaks to the poor workmanship that went into crafting this graphic novel. You know it’s a bad sign when the author’s biography spends more time talking about his work as a business consultant and entrepreneur than his work as a writer. The blurb describing the plot is filled with misspellings, grammatical errors, and a seemingly random placement of commas. ‘Is’ is used in place of “His” and “as the climax of the battle between Arrow and JimJoe approach” rather than “approaches”. One also wonders how the reader is meant to be surprised by the astonishing twist “as the climax… approach” when the blurb ends with the promise of “an astonishing twist.”