Zombillenium, vol. 1: Gretchen

ZombilleniumIn this darkly humorous tale, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen next. The Zombillenium Amusement Park is filled with monsters of every sort: mummies, ghosts, zombies, and more. Little do the visitors know that every one of them is real. Zombillenium hires lost souls who have nowhere else to turn, though their contracts are for eternity.

Aurelian Zahner was already having a bad day. His wife informed him of her affair and he failed at robbing a bar at gunpoint. Next, he becomes the latest in the Zombillenium recruiting pool. However, some overzealous managers gave him too many conversion bites, leaving everyone to wonder if he will turn into a vampire, a werewolf, or something else. Luckily, Gretchen the witch intern always seems to be on hand to help Aurelian navigate his new-found status among the undead amusement park crowd.

The rapid switches between comedy and the macabre kept me off balance and interested throughout the book. Translated from the original French and presented in English for the first time, the writing remains quirky and fun. Learning it was originally written in France felt right, as the tone consists of a dry, wicked humor that is a bit different from American comics. That is part of the charm of the book, especially as it keeps everyone in suspense.

The illustrations are cute and cartoony until something bad happens. Then you get a bit of a shock. While some monsters are rather adorable, certain characters give off nefarious vibes. There is also some rather intense violence in a few scenes. It seems at odds with the other illustrations, although a great deal happens out of the panels.

The book is weird and intriguing enough for me to want to check out the next one, once it’s translated. The semi-disturbing story would be a hit with monster-loving teens, though the darkness of the plot might give some people the heebie-jeebies.

Zombillenium, vol. 1: Gretchen
by Arthur De Pins
ISBN: 9781561637348
NBM, 2013

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