Review: The Dregs

Originally posted on Irish Comic News (4/Aug/2017)

Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler.
Line art by Eric Zawadzki.
Colour art by Dee Cunniffe.

A gentrified city. Its homeless population restricted to six square blocks called The Dregs. When people start disappearing, a drug addled homeless man obsessed with detective fiction becomes addicted to solving the mystery. Equal parts Raymond Chandler and Don Quixote set in a thriving metropolis that literally cannibalizes the poor, The Dregs is the first homeless meta noir ever made. (Synopsis for The Dregs on Black Mask Studios website

There is just so much I liked about this comic, which is a lttle disconcerting put down on the page considering this is a story that has cannibalism and a drug addled homeless man at the heart of it.

Thompson and Nadler tell a story that makes great use of common attitudes towards homeless people and gentrification of cities. Homeless people are generally made invisible by their social status.  Add gentriciation to the mix and the story has its impetus. Why relocate the homeless when you can just feed them to affluent urbanites?

There’s a good balance struck by Thompson and Nadler in the story between giving the reader some experience of the hallucinations of the homeless man and giving a sense of events happening in the ciyt that are ultimately all connected.  I really enjoyed how the homeless mans obsession with detective stories shaped some of his hallucinations.

The art gives a great sense of atmosphere to the city. Run down buildings, abandoned lots and dirty streets emphasis that this is a city that has seen better days. Zawadzki’s art is well suited to this comic. There’s a dirty and worn look to the city and most of the people that appear in the comic. Which is exactly what you’d expect from a story about homelessness. There’s also a wonderful two page spiral panel sequence that shows a willingness on the artists part to experiment with page layouts.

Cunniffe puts the colours over Zawadzki’s lines. As with the line art, the colour art has a grimey texture to it. The use of blues for the night scenes really worked well with the spirit of the comic. It works particularly well when the lead of the comic is in poorly-lit areas of the city. The reader can still get a lot of information from the scenes without mistaking night for day. There’s also some nice work on a blood-soaked newspaper the protagnist happens upon in one scene.

The comic has the whole team bringing their best game to it. Writing, line work and colours all have something there that’ll have the reader coming back to it again to see what details they may have missed on the previous reading.

If the synopsis at the top of the review sounds like something you might like I really recommend you check this comic out. For those that aren’t really swayed by the synopsis…. go get it! It’s a quality comic!

The Dregs will be in shops on August 9th.

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