Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #119 by Drew Barth

Oh God, It’s Coming This Way

I’ve said it once before and I will repeat it again and again: John Allison is one of the most consistently great writers in modern comics. I’ve gone over his history in the previous article where I took a look at the first issue of his new series with Max Sarin and Whitney Cogar, Wicked Things. A bit over a year later the six-issue series has ended and the collected edition is out, and is just as good as the first issue had shown. Surprising me, this series, despite being completed, may still live on later.

Wicked Things is a Bad Machinery style mystery all the way through—the main case becomes background for a series of characters and misadventures in-between the bits of serious crime drama. From the inciting assault at the end of the first issue, we’re taken on a journey through the Metropolitan Police, underground casinos, and some brazen heists with our teen detective of the year-slash-murder suspect, Charlotte Grote. Lottie is one of the returning characters from the original Scary-Go-Round stories, and one of the main characters in Bad Machinery, along with another returning friend in the form of Claire Little. Allison has built a sandbox and I’d be remiss if he didn’t play in it more. But his has become a 4-D sandbox with all of his series spinning off and existing in some way together to create a larger universe of stories. Wicked Things is another story that will likely continue due to a cliffhanger so large it may as well star Sylvester Stallone.

As much as I love Allison’s writing in these series, it’s been the art of Max Sarin and the coloring of Whitney Cogar that have made me come back to these series consistently. After stepping in for Lissa Treiman through the second volume of Giant Days, Sarin’s lines have been some of the most expressive and comically perfect I’ve seen in many modern comics. If much of Allison’s work is considered slice-of-life, Sarin and Cogar match that feeling. They’re not going to make life look photo-realistic, but instead opt for the mental pictures we have of ourselves with all of the exaggerated expressions and lunacy that we imagine after growing up watching too many Looney Tunes.

As Wicked Things does end on a cliffhanger, there are more opportunities for the series to continue. But as this single volume stands—along with rest of the work in Giant Days, Scary-Go-Round, and Bad Machinery—it can end here and that would be fine. It’s one of those things that makes Allison that consistent writer—there is a continual feeling of satisfaction with his work once it hits an ending. As a reader, you always want more from characters you’ve been reading for twenty years now, but you’re content with how their stories turned out. But still, I’m exited to see if Wicked Things will continue into the future as I’m never content.

Get excited. Get wicked.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.