Buzzed Books #90: Enchantée

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Buzzed Books #90 by JD Langert

Gita Trelease’s Enchantée

Diving into the world of Gita Trelease’s Enchantée will bewitch you into wanting more, but fade over time like the magic of Camille’s dress.

Gita Trelease's Enchantéé

Set in Paris, 1789, on the brink of the French Revolution, the story follows Camille Durbonne as she tries to navigate a world of thieves, revolutionaries, and magicians. After losing her parents to smallpox, it falls upon her to care for her sickly younger sister with no resources or help. Her one blessing, as well as curse, is her magic. With it, she can transform objects for a limited time, but the cost is her very life force. Driven to desperation after her abusive brother steals the last of their money, she uses forbidden magic to sneak into the treacherous Palace of Versailles. There, she gambles to change her fate, unaware of the darker games being played.

With a premise like that, I expected to be served a tale fit for a queen. And, for a while, Enchantée delivered. Within a dozen pages, I’d already been introduced to numerous world conflicts (the impending revolution, apathy of the queen for her starving subjects, recent famine) as well as problems closer to Camille’s own heart (her sick and worldly-naive sister, poverty, dead parents, life-sucking magic, and a knife-wielding psychopath for a brother). This combined with a dynamic first meeting with the mixed-blood love interest, Lazare, via runaway air balloon and dark warnings from her fellow gambler/magician, Chandon, I anticipated a delicious feast of conflict and peril. Yet… like the cake, it seems that was a lie.

Or at least, another sleight of hand from Camille herself. Not to say that the story was bad at any point, but lackluster as it fumbled with its own potential. What harmed Enchantée the most was the tradeoff of concrete goals and action for leisurely thought and the contemplation of past events. After solving Camille’s initial desire of getting enough money for rent, the story feels lost as for what to do next. While there would be references to a revolution brewing, Sèguin being a dark magician, and the looming threat of her brother, Camille seems rather unaffected. Sure, she was aware and concerned, but did very little to either deal or learn more about said issues. While I cannot fault Trelease for not putting Camille at the forefront of the French Revolution (no matter how that idea is set up with her father being a former revolutionary), there is still the expectation that if a problem is introduced in the story, the main character will play a role in trying to solve it. This is possible to do even without drastically changing history.

However, Camille doesn’t seem to play much of a role in anything. As charming as gambling aristocrats out of their money and playing hide-n-seek in the gardens is for hundreds of pages, it doesn’t scream an active or suspenseful storyline. Camille reveals her heroic intentions with, “I don’t know, but something is happening, Sophie. Perhaps something great, but perhaps something terrible. If we stay in Paris, and I start a press, I can do my part in telling the truth about it” (423). However, she remains on the edge of decision long enough for it to resolve before she does anything. While danger does eventually strike, it comes from a rather uninspired source and resolves too quickly with Camille benefiting from the conflict. Me personally, I stand by Vladimir Nabokov’s theory that “the writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree and throw rocks at them” rather than the way Trelease tosses vague threats at Camille.

The writing style both helped and harmed this impression. While wonderful in terms of recreating a vivid Paris during this time period, character thought and dialogue fell short on many occasions. Particularly with the main antagonist. “You and I–together we will rise. Victorious. We will be the court’s second monarchs, the King and Queen of Magic” (383). Given that this is the apparent reveal of the villain’s plans and motivations, it felt underwhelming and lacking in depth. Given Camille’s own indecisive sentiments, the antagonist’s lack of the solid plan further decreased the impact of the story.

However, there were times the writing hit all the right notes. “What if she told him her fingernails used to be like his? Would he believe her, in her silk dress and clean hands? It seemed like another life” (321). Given the gritty depth of hopelessness Camille felt earlier in the story, the reader is able to immediately sympathize with the street urchin while also feeling the strange dissonance of Camille’s new status. Yet, even here, I would want Camille to do something to honor that person she used to be instead of just lamenting how much she’s changed.

For all it that could be improved, I would still recommend Enchantée to anyone with a love for France, history, and empathetic characters. Many novels that deal with revolution often frame it with one side being irrevocably good and the other undeniable evil. Trelease strikes a unique balance as she guides Camille to care for the aristocrats she befriends as their glass houses shatter around them while keeping her own revolutionary beliefs. While I wish Camille hadn’t permanently sat on the fence as to what to do, her open-mindedness and compassion in spite of her bitter life was as refreshing as it was enlightening.


JD Langert Author Photo

JD Langert is pursuing her MFA in Genre Fiction at Western Colorado University. With interests in both screenwriting and novels, she’s been published in John Hopkins Imagine Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and other publications. Feel free to visit her website here.

Episode 381: Deirdre Coyle!

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Episode 381 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or right-click here to download.

In this week’s episode, I talk with the fiction writer and essayist Deirdre Coyle about why fantasy can be more real than realism, the video game experience that happens inside our minds, and the joys of cutting extraneous words from manuscripts.

Deirdre Coyle Farewell Reading

Deirdre Coyle’s farewell reading at the Kerouac Project, August 17, 2019.

Deirdre Coyle Wizard

A witch versus the wizard of Wor. Photo by John King.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

Read Deirdre’s wonderful video game blog, This Mortal Coyle, at Unwinnable, or her short stories “Stakes” and “How to Vomit Living Creatures.”

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Learn more about the Kerouac Project of Orlando here.

Kerouac-Color-CMYK-HiRes

If you are in Orlando on September 7th, come join the Kerouac Project in welcoming its fall 2019 resident, Chelsey Clammer, with a potluck dinner.

Check out my alcoholic, literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover

RIP, AC for TDO’s Secret HQ.

RIP AC.JPG


Episode 381 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or right-click here to download.

The Curator of Schlock #287: Death Laid an Egg

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The Curator of Schlock #287 by Jeff Shuster

Death Laid an Egg

So did the director.

Week 4 of Giallo Month is here. Are you entertained? Did you know that over 400 gialli were made over there in Italy? Do you think I’m getting through all of them in this lifetime? I don’t think so. And you’d better believe that I’m going to try to watch as many of these through streaming services. But the trouble with services like Amazon Prime is that they giveth and taketh away. I planned to review Torso this month, but it’s no longer available. I planned on reviewing Eye in the Labyrinth this month, but every time I click on it to play, no dice. But never fear, I’ve found a replacement.

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Tonight’s movie is 1968’s Death Laid an Eggfrom director Giulio Questi. If you ever wanted to spend ninety minutes in an automated chicken farm, then this is the movie for you!

Oh, man. I’ve got about three hundred and fifty more words to go.

How did I get here?

I am not finding myself in my beautiful house with my beautiful wife. Instead, I find myself watching a late 60s Italian poultry fetish movie at two in the morning. I can get through this. I can do it.

Death Laid an Egg starts out with a man named Marco (Jean-Louis Trintignant) meeting up with a woman in a hotel room. The woman is a prostitute and Marco mustn’t like prostitutes since he starts slicing her up with a straight razor. Later, Marco goes into an office building to figure out the best way to advertise chickens. You see, Marco co-manages a chicken farm with his sexy wife, Anna (Gina Lollobrigida). The chicken farm was recently automated which resulted in the plant workers being let go from their jobs.

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Anna and Marco live an idyllic life on the chicken farm. They have a palatial estate, a fancy swimming pool, and separate beds to sleep in so they don’t hog each other’s covers at night. Anna also let her down-on-her luck cousin, Gabri (Ewa Aulin), stay with them. Gabri happens to be a young, pretty blonde woman and attracts the attention of Marco. The two begin having an affair. Marco wants to run away with her, start his life over with her, but Gabri refuses.

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Meanwhile, Anna is obsessed with breeding the perfect chicken. She has bioengineers working to achieve this. Eventually, chickens are hatched that have no heads or wings, but are full of meat with few bones. Marco considers them an abomination. Anna thinks they are the chicken of tomorrow and can’t wait to showcase them before the Poultry Commission, but Marco destroys them before she gets the chance. This puts Marco in hot water with the Poultry Commission. You could say his goose is cooked.

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What am I watching here? I want to see horrific murders being committed by a psychopath with black gloves, trench coat, and fedora. I don’t want a diatribe on the dehumanizing effects of automation.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have the hankering for some chicken salad.


Jeffrey Shuster 4

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #32: Fantasy House Party

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #32 by Drew Barth

Fantasy House Party

With the recent publication of DIE #6, I was reminded of another series that I had written about previously: Coda. With its examination of fantasy tropes and classic D&D character classes as starting points for exploring what fantasy is and what it can be, Coda, and its creative team of Si Spurrier and Matías Bergara, became established as one of the best fantasy comic series in quite some time. The final issue of Codacoincided the release of the first volume of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’s DIEanother series that examines fantasy, RPG classes.

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Coda is like a traditional D&D game run amok with much of its magic being limited to a scarce resource, character quests proving futile, and whole warring factions undermined by the machinations of manipulative god. This would be a campaign in which every saving roll failed.

DIE uses the role playing game idea more literally, and then twists it. The characters are role-players who must inhabited the fantasy world they have ruined—almost calling back to the ruined world of Coda—and have to deal with the consequences of their teenage actions from when they were originally trapped in the game. There is also the World War I imagery throughout the series—one of Tolkien’s influences when writing about Middle-earth—even going so far as to have a hobbit-esque soldier dying in a trench as a commanding officer in gray smokes a pipe above his corpse. DIE deconstructs fantasy RPGs and their cultural DNA.

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The two central figures of DIE and Coda—Ash and Hum, respectively—belong to highly verbal roles. Ash as The Dictator can speak emotions into existence, and Hum the Bard composes stories and ballads that make magic. Ash and Hum deal almost exclusively in deception through most of their series, relying on their words as a means of defense and eschewing responsibility for their impact. Interestingly, Gillen and Spurrier chose these untrustworthy characters as narrators for both series. How much of either story is actually happening, and how much is the manipulative discourse of our narrators? For Coda, we ultimately know that the majority of Hum’s narration is utter lies, no matter how much Hum wishes they were true. As for Ash of DIE, such dishonesty would clash with the themes of DIE at the moment. Then again, we’ll have to wait to see how the rest of the story goes.

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DIE and Coda are both series that are masterful in kicking away our genre expectations. All of those subversions come with having a fine-tuned, fundamental understanding of what makes fantasy and role-playing compelling. Through this knowledge, some truly spectacular comics are able to emerge.

Commitment to creation and character drives these stories forward. When we have creators like Gillen and Hans and Spurrier and Bergara, the medium of comics gets better. When creators recast old forms for something new, we get stories that show us how far fantasy and comics can be pushed when given that right amount of thought and insight. Comics need to be pushed forward. DIE and Coda push hard.

Get excited. Play the game.


drew barth

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.

Episode 380: Binnie Kirshenbaum!

Episode 380 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or right-click here to download.

In this week’s episode, I talk with the novelist Binnie Kirshenbaum about finding one’s voice, finding the right point-of-view, avoiding boredom, and the occasional hell of marketing literature.

Binnie Kirshenbaum

Photo by Tina Boyadjieva.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

Rabbits for FoodThe Scenic Route

A Disturbance on One Place.pngOn Mermaid Avenue

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Art Spiegelman chose not to censor his essay on Marvel Comics, in which he likens the president to the Red Skull. Instead, he gave the essay to The Guardian.

Check out my alcoholic, literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover


Episode 380 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or right-click here to download.

The Curator of Schlock #286: Weekend Murders

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The Curator of Schlock #286 by Jeff Shuster

Weekend Murders

What are you doing this weekend?

Anyone catch the latest season of Grantchester, the gem of Masterpiece Mystery on PBS? This season was a tsunami of mystery and heartache. Reverend Sidney Chambers fell in love with a woman of color visiting from the American South during the Civil Rights movement.  He moved to America to be with her. Leonard was struggling with his role of curate while trying to keep his homosexuality a secret. DI Geordie had to contend with his wife working as a sales associate at a fancy new department store in town. Oh, and Geordie’s wife ends up getting sexually harassed by a coworker resembling Orson Welles. And let’s not forget about new vicar of Grantchester, Will Davenport, a dashing young man with his own dark secrets. But I’m wasting my time, aren’t I? None of you want to hear me talk about fine British television. Such is my lot in life.

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This week’s Giallo is 1970’s The Weekend Murders from director Michele Lupo. Like GrantchesterThe Weekend Murders takes its cues from the British cozy, the quaint mysteries that take place in the country as opposed to the big city. Sure, a murder or two may take place, but at least the surroundings are pleasant. The movie begins with an English bobby named Sgt. Aloisius Thorpe (Gastone Moschin) cycling through the English village of Somerleyton. He’s a rather goofy looking chap, complete with a bobby mustache and big teeth. He looks like the kind of bobby they make lamps out of.

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Anyway, Sgt. Thorpe rides through town on his bicycle. He rides up next to a milk truck, pops one of the bottles open, drinks his fill, and pays the driver. I’ve never seen that in a movie. He then travels to a golf course where some well-to-do members of the gentry are enjoying a game until one of them finds a hand sticking up out of the sand trap. Someone’s been murdered! The movie then sets us back a couple of days where we’re introduced to these well-to-do members of the gentry, showing up at a rich estate to find out about their inheritance. The old geezer bequeaths his prized flowers to Sgt. Thorpe, who openly weeps to the disgust of various playboys, snobs, and a prodigal daughter or two. Everyone else gets nothing with the exception of the old geezer’s niece, Barbara (Anna Moffo), who inherits the estate.

Of course, if Barbara were to die, the estate with be divided evenly among the remaining family members. Naturally, bodies start showing up. I think the first is the family butler, ruling him out as a murder suspect. I think someone points that out in the movie, so it’s not that funny.

Scotland Yard sends over their finest detective, Inspector Grey (Lance Percival), to solve the case. The rest of the movie shows off the sublime incompetence of Detective Grey counterbalanced with surprising ingenuity of Sgt. Thorpe. Together they’ll get to the bottom of the murders. This is an odd one, an Giallo movie rife with English stereotypes, but I enjoyed it … though not as much as Grantchester.

The Weekend Murders is streaming on Amazon Prime.



Jeffrey Shuster 3

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #31: Paper Folding

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #31 by Drew Barth

Paper Folding

In comics, Brian K. Vaughn is a great character writer. Between Y: The Last Man, Runaways, or the perennial favorite, Saga, Vaughn has proven himself a master of character—whether it be character creation, character arcs, or specific character defining moments. He has a way of hitting a reader with a completely fleshed out character in a handful of panels that is admirable and elusive.

Vaughn and Cliff Chiang—whose character design choices and style breathe life into Vaughn’s scripts—collaborate the series Paper Girls, a masterclass in character studies. Just this past week the series ended at thirty issues. I’ve mentioned Paper Girls in a previous article highlighting the character work, but with the series over and the arcs completed, it’s as good a time to revisit how the characters shine.

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Erin is the first of the four main characters we see. On November 1st, 1988, she is the newest member of the American Newspaper Delivery Guild, essentially making her the perfect cppint of entry for the story. But Erin isn’t a blank-slate stand-in for the reader. She is continually curious about time ripping apart around her, and that curiosity leads her to be more adaptable when the four girls are flung into the future and meet Erin’s own future self. But that curiosity came with uncertainty about who she was going to become. As the story progresses, that uncertainty sheds itself from her as time itself becomes more immaterial. Not everything seen in the future is fated to happen, so Erin knows that things can and will change.

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On the other hand, Tiffany is a character who had already embraced the future. She had the newest technology with her Nintendo Entertainment System, her CB walkie-talkies, and her general outlook that the future will solve the problems of the present. But Tiffany is another character who meets her future self and that sense of confidence in the future is shattered. While Erin moved toward changing fate, Tiffany actively looked for ways to escape it. And that desire to escape—that fear of what the future could bring—ended up imbuing her with a skepticism that hadn’t existed before, but would help her through the final arc and decision of having her memory wiped.

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From the outset, KJ was elusive, cool, calm, distant, collected in everything, and carried a field hockey stick that she inevitably used to smack a few people with. Her aloofness was the result of being insulated at a private school and only seeing the others while on the paper route. Much of that changes when she has an encounter with an alien entity who shows her glimpses of the near and distant future, including a moment in which she and Mac share a kiss and KJ realizes that she is a lesbian. It’s here that the distance she had maintained is erased. There is now a comfort in being with the group—not because it is something foretold by an alien thing, but because that’s what KJ chooses as a character.

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Mac is an almost stereotypical tomboy. She smokes, she cusses, she doesn’t give a solitary shit about anything. Coming from an unstable household, she has a honed nihilism that comes out as threats and violence. Mac is also one of the only characters to not meet her future self, because she doesn’t have a future self. As a result of the time travel, she contracts an incurable disease. And that becomes her turn. Mac still maintains that teenage nihilism, but underneath that everything has changed. She goes on a hunt in the future to find a cure for herself, talks a dying woman through her last moments, and actually cares about keeping herself alive.

The story has been building up this war across time between two eras that have been vying for control of the timestream, and Erin, KJ, Tiffany, and Mac end up being both a sort of catalyst for the war itself as well as its resolution. All of their messing with time has inevitably caused both sides to come to a stalemate and it is the sacrifice of the four’s memories that allows this time war to end. And so the final issue of the series acts as a kind of redux of the first, which, on its own, is a really clever method for physically showing how much their characters have changed by comparing and contrasting panels.

On the other hand, we can see where each individual character arc has lead each character. Erin is still the curious new girl, but has a new sense of confidence. Tiffany wakes up from playing her NES all night and decides that maybe playing those games all night isn’t always the best. KJ is more receptive of the world around her and introspective when thinking about the future. Mac changes her language and doesn’t use a slur, opening up vulnerability, but still maintaining an essential coarseness when she punch-buggies KJ.

Their first night together done over culminates with them all riding into the sunrise where they were previously expected to ride home alone separately. That is how much change they’ve gone through. Even with their memories erased, their core has changed enough where they are fundamentally different people. Seeing those subtleties in their words and actions at the end of a thirty issue series is something wonderful.

Get excited. No punch backs.


drew barth

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.

Episode 379: Katharine Smyth!

Episode 379 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or right-click here to download.

In this week’s episode, I talk with the memoirist Katharine Smyth about how literature fills our lives, and is there for us in peculiarly reassuring ways when we lose everything.

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Photo by Frances F. Denny.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

All_The_Lives_We_Ever_Lived_r1.indd

To the Lighthouse.png
The Voyage Out

NOTES

This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

RIP, Toni Morrison.

The Bluest Eye

Episode 379 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.

The Curator of Schlock #285: Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye

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The Curator of Schlock #285 by Jeff Shuster

Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye

Orangutan at Dragonstone Castle

It’s week 2 of Giallo Month here at the Museum of Schlock. I spent a small fortune on some jars of bathwater taken from the bathtub scene from The Case of the Bloody Iris, the scene where that one model jumped up naked from the bubble bath. I did this purely for research purposes and not for some sick fetish I’m too ashamed to admit in public. I may put these jars on display, but I can’t promise anything. I’m so lonely.

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Tonight’s fine specimen of Italian cinema is 1973’s Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye from director Antonio Margheriti (whose glorious name is an easter egg in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds).

The flick starts out with a man being murdered. I think he’s getting cut up with a razor blade. A big fluffy cat looks on with bemusement. You could say the cat is eyeing the death. Six deaths to go!

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The movie takes place in this castle on an island off the coast of England, Scotland, or some British country. Oh, and the castle is full of rats too. They make short work out of the corpse mentioned above. If you ever wanted to see rats chewing off a dead guy’s face, this is the movie for you.

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Okay. The protagonist of our cinematic journey is Corringa (Jane Birkin), a beautiful young woman who was away at boarding school, but left abruptly after she upset the nuns.  As she’s getting dropped off at her family home, Dragonstone Castle, we see a deformed orangutan peeking out at her through one of the castle windows. Forget about the serial killer, there’s an orangutan loose in the castle! I’ll take my chances with the serial killer!

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We get a dinner scene with a bunch of potential suspects and victims. We’ve got Dr. Franz (Anton Differing), the family headshrinker who must be on call because these rich families always have a few screws loose due to inbreeding. There’s Padre Robertson (Venantino Venantini), the family’s Catholic Priest who must also be on call to hear a few confessions. Oh, and Corringa has a mad cousin named Lord James MacGrieff (Hiram Keller) whols a potential love interest for her when he isn’t being rude and drinking his dinner. Another guest is a French teacher named Suzanne (Doris Kuntsmann) who was hired as a potential mistress for mad Lord James, but she ended up having an affair with Dr. Franz who is also dating one of the older Ladies of the castle, Corringa’s mother or mad Lord James’s mother.

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Are you following all of this? Can you explain it to me?

Bodies start piling up. Who could the killer be?

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I know exactly what you’re thinking.

It’s the orangutan, but that’s too easy. Also, why would an orangutan go to the trouble of using a razor blade to kill someone? Unless, it’s a killer dressed up as an orangutan. What a brilliant idea. You could dress up as an orangutan, kill some people the way a human being would, and no one would ever suspect you. I think I just came up with the perfect crime. Do me a favor and don’t tell anyone.

Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye can be found on Amazon Prime streaming.


Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #30: I Was Told By

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #30 by Drew Barth

I Was Told By

Imagine, as wild as this sounds, that the United States becomes a theocratic, imperialistic super-state that invades Canada because the Lord said so. That is the story-ground that Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram set their series Little Bird upon. Little Bird is the story of family and the threads that tie them all together despite the ends fraying, the knots accumulating, and a pair of scissors coming in for the cut. There hasn’t quite been anything in comics that looks and feels like Little Bird.

lb1From a visual and paneling standpoint, Bertram wants us awake. His use of everything from the positioning of characters within the panel, the empty space around those characters, and the panel and bleed-space as a means of conveying time maintains this feeling of unease and dread. Consider the first page of the series posted above. The woman, Tantoo, begins with a close-up and a large swatch of space before moving downward to see her position above her small band of Canadian resistance fighters and then finally down to her daughter, the titular Little Bird. For the eye to track her is one fluid movement, but her concern as a character is focused solely on her daughter. Little Bird is the only character Tantoo looks at in these moments. All of this happens before an explosion of unseen violence and a charred earth left behind.

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Violence becomes common throughout the series as Little Bird cannot die in an ultimate sense. The result of that first death is the above page, with its panel-in-panel structure and winding moments of character narrative that become a mainstay anytime Little Bird is killed. These moments highlight the absurdity of violence, as there are moments of Kurosawa levels of blood sputtering for the smallest of wounds. But then what are wounds and violence to someone like Little Bird and her grandfather, The Axe?

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Red tendrils that constantly appear. The characters are pulled by these tendrils, but the tendrils are never acknowledged. When looking at the progression of the series covers from one to five, we see the characters eventually drowning in this sea of red. These red tendrils exist seemingly outside the story and bring to mind the bleed between panels as they, at time, grab onto characters from outside of the panels themselves. The tendrils exist as a stark reminder of the past and how that past is something that can’t be changed. They push Little Bird by showing her the mistakes her family has made and help bring her out of a cycle of death and life. Little Bird takes full vivid advantage of the comic medium to tell a visceral story.

In the series’ final issue, Van Poelgeest mentions that Little Bird is only a part of a larger narrative in this world. This is a new, breathing world from Van Poelgeest and Bertram and I’m glad they’re digging deeper into it to see what kind of stories come out.

Get excited. There is always more.


drew barthDrew 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.