cover image Fear My Dear

Fear My Dear

Dean Haspiel. Z2 Comics (Diamond, dist.), $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-940878-01-0

Haspiel’s long-running Billy Dogma character returns in a pair of duotone episodes originally published on the Web. In the first (red) episode, Billy and his love Jane are pursued by a monster that used to promote love and now wishes to destroy it. In the second (yellow) episode, Billy must face his favorite superhero, with whom he has a personal connection. The style is vivid, with the strong colors providing inherent drama to mostly metaphysical tales, as Billy and Jane race through dangers both real and existential. The characters speak in their own odd, poetic slang, which adds to the overall dramatic effect, but sometimes becomes an impediment to the story. At critical moments, such as when Billy proposes he and Jane treat each other better, the flippant language blocks the reader’s intimacy with the characters. Later, when the people of Trip City have to give up their heirlooms to appease the monster, the heartbreaks of the town are expressed more directly in plain language. Another jolt comes when a flower grows from an interesting part of Jane’s anatomy. The grace of this moment only underlines the weirdness in this oddball tale, which fuses poetry with comics. (Apr.)