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Friday, September 2, 2016

Mr Crypt No. 1. Troy Vevasis (Writer), Aleksander Jovic (Art). Alterna Comics (2016)

Very engaging and charming comic that uses animation structures to great effect. On a night in 1932 a skeleton emerges from a grave and sets off to the nearby town where the locals assume he is an evil skeleton and chase him (with torches and pitchforks of course). The skeleton escapes capture, finds somewhere to hide, befriends a rat and sets about organising his life.
When the central idea is this simple the burden fall almost completely on the execution and the comic rises to the challenge with such ease and confident skill that it is a pleasure to read.
Troy Vevasis takes a very smart approach to the structure of the comic, it is a series of short episodes, each complete in themselves and with a running gag that provides a connection. The structure is similar to that used by short serial animated shows and it works really well here. The running gag is actually about running and it keeps the necessary tension into the story, it allows the natural easy humour of the writing come through as a counterpoint. Mr Crypts kind nature, he befriends a starving rat  is contrasted with the fear and rage of the mob that chases him. At the same time Mr Crypt is a walking skeleton so the reaction of the villagers is entirely understandable. The heart of the story is misunderstanding rather than hate and this creates story possibilities that Troy Vevasis takes full advantage of.
Troy Vevasis has taken a considerable risk with Mr Crypt, an uncomplicated story line leaves the writer no room to recover from a false note, everything has to work, each episode has to deliver something. It needs very considerable talent and confidence to make this work as well as they do in this comic.
Aleksander Jovic's art has the utterly essential friendliness needed to deliver the story, the idea is essentially horrific and it need to retain a slight edge while not being threatening. It has to make the absurdity of the situation normal, just not too normal. The slightly cartoony art manages all of this with ease, the villagers look angry but not baleful, the skeleton is a friendly as a skeleton can possibly be. The very ridiculous disguise that Mr Crypt uses is just a joy, it nails the story idea  and establishes the story universe with playful accuracy. The bright colours capture and emphasise the story ideas, the shadows are friendly not frightening. They are really strong as the story has the room for them, they are not subtle except in the way that the overall effect is, they chime so well with the story intent that they also hide their craft in plain sight. The lettering is quiet and natural, the sound effects are smart and capture the moments with the right weight and volume.
The "All Ages" label can be a death notice for any project, it runs the risk of being too obvious for adults, too condescending for teenagers and too thin for young children. Mr Crypt is a comic that can be read with pleasure by anyone because it is not "All Ages" it is simply true to the creators vision and delivers charm, craft, friendship, danger and complete absurdity with confidence.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Troy Vevasis, you can purchase Mr Crypt 1 (and you should the quiet charm will reduce stress and increase happiness) from  Mr. Crypt #1 - Comics by comiXology

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