The Creep, written by John Arcudi and drawing by Jonathan Case, is a crime noir comic harkening back to the old days of comic-dom. Pulp magazines and film noir were really the forefathers of the comic book, and without them our favorite print medium would never have
taken off in the ‘60s. Even without this fact, I have a major love for this genre, and so was very excited about reading this. Unfortunately, I was not excited enough, because little did I know that this book was outrageously good!
The story follows a private detective named Oxel as he pursues an investigation into the suicide of an old friend’s son. Oxel isn’t your typical noir hero; he’s not suave, handsome, or confident. Matter of fact I would say that he is downright terrible with people. Oxel is beaten down, depressed, and dysfunctional. He is also disfigured by Acromegaly. Despite this lack of heroic character, he still pursues the case to the end, despite the many obstacles. He is an exceptionally compelling protagonist.
This story is not a happy one. The pages are packed full of darkness and disturbing imagery. It’s also not an action book; this is drama and suspense to the core, without filler, every scene playing to the importance of the plot.
Arcudi’s writing is fantastic. The tone of the story is expertly written, with great pacing throughout the plot. Acrudi typically writes things that are new takes on classic genre, and this story is no different. His take, I think, could really change how people view the classics,and maybe bring about more stories in this genre. His characters are believable and deep. Oxel is fantastically complex, and I can tell that this story only scratched the surface of what can be found there.
Case’s art is probably my favorite part of the book. His deep shadows and vivid imagery accentuates the tone of Arcudi’s writing. He managed to make Oxel a dynamic character, with a deformed visage, without making him a cruel caricature. Some of the scenes were genuinely shocking, with the art and writing giving a grand feeling of suspense
Books that are this good always tend to be the hardest to review. There is a delicate balance to informing, without gushing over it like a school girl. While I went into this review having a predisposed love of the genre, I can unequivocally state that even if it’s not one of your favorite genres you really need to check this book out. It’s beautifully written and drawn. The story and art flow fluidly together to portray Oxel’s plight in a dark and compelling manner. Few writers and artists work so well together so I will be on the lookout if these two collaborate again, and you should too. That is, after you rush out right now to buy and read The Creep.
Rex Hanson wants to make it clear that he is not a Creep. He is a nice guy living in the wilds of the Midwest. His reviews appear at STR each week.