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Arsenic Lullaby Review

-by Andrew Goletz

Rating: 10 out of 10

I could probably go to hell for just reading this comic. My chances are increased considerably by the fact that I enjoy it so much. Created, written and illustrated by Douglas Paszkiewicz (the name is murder on my spell check), Arsenic Lullaby is a comic book like no other

I had the good fortune to meet Mr.P during the Motor City Convention earlier this year and that is where I was first introduced to his work. Needless to say, after I laughed my ass of and promptly hid the comic from wandering eyes I went and purchased all the issues that I was missing. What can I write about this book that would do it justice? To say that itís Ďout thereí sounds trite. To say that no one under the age of 25 should be able to read it could scare people off unjustly. And to speak about the gags would spoil the fun for everyone.

Iíll do my best to emphasize the kick ass-take no prisoners-balls to the wall coolness of the book without giving too much away. Arsenic Lullaby is an anthology embracing cynicism, sarcasm, wit and irreverence. In each issue there are one or two short features. The topics always change. One issue that comes to mind had a short story with two flies sitting on a couch and having a conversation about how great life would be in Ethiopia where they could sit on people without being swatted at.

There are also continuing installments. One ongoing story features Joe (who wears a mask after being turned into a witch doctor awhile before). Joe must constantly inflict revenge on other people to keep the curse from getting worse. Believe me, Garth Ennis may have found some competition in the creative ways to maim and torture contest.

Another popular feature (well, itís ongoing, I donít really know how popular it is) stars the US Census Agent. The best way to explain this is to swipe some of the opening lines from an older issue.  This is from the May í99 edition. ďMy name is Edgar Bryers. I am a US Census Agent. We worked very hard to count every man, woman and child. When we were done this country had a perfect census. This data could have been used to divide up the tax dollars, make laws, and set up quotas. It could have, until selfish fascists go and have a baby. Just one baby after the census throws the whole thing off balance.Ē  And thatís all youíre going to get without reading the book. Suffice to say, there are reasons (besides spoiling the fun) that I donít go into the solution Bryers has.

Humor and deciding what is appropriate or not appropriate to laugh at is such a touch subject nowadays that itís refreshing to see a book like Arsenic Lullaby come out and just not give a damn. Douglas P. is setting out simply to make some people laugh about things they normally wouldnít admit to finding funny and whether he likes to admit it or not, I think heís making us think, too. The humor is there to shock, yes, but it also makes fun of our own ignorance as people to deal with these issues in an appropriate way. I think part of the fun that comes from reading this book is in trying to figure out what the real target of joke is.  

The rest of the book is as impressive as the writing. The art is done surprisingly well. In my experience with books of this nature, the art is the weaker part of the overall comic book, but Douglas P. manages to give each story its own separate look, which is welcome. Arsenic Lullaby contains the right amount of reader feedback, contests and commentary from the creator to give it a good balance. Any title in which every issue is dedicated to Ronald Reagan has to be good.

My only complaint (you knew there had to be something) is that I wish the story-lines werenít spread out within the individual issues so much. What I mean is that the US Census Agent story for this particular issue could be spread out with pages 2-6, 12-14 and 20-22. I think it would come together a bit more sharply if it was put together in each issue.

So should you get Arsenic Lullaby? Absolutely. I donít think there is any reason why you should not try the book out. The humor probably wonít be with everyoneís tastes, but you owe it to yourselves to at least take a chance on it. Douglas P. is doing his best to put out a title that doesnít tone itself down in its attempts to make you crack a smile. He should get some sort of recognition for that. Itís pretty much a safe bet that youíll be reading something the likes of which youíve never read before.

Available through A.Silent Comics Inc

1619 W. Whitaker Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53221  

Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz