In Review: Killdarlings

This is a one-man show about two women who are insane, and their public loves them for it.

The cover: Talula De Van is on the top half of this frontpiece. She’s sporting heavy eyeliner, her hair is perfection, she’s wearing a white shirt that’s complemented by a black straight tie and black jacket. Oh, and she’s pointing a pistol at her head. The figure at the bottom is her friend, and model, Nomi Saint. She’s also got on some heavy black eyeliner, her blonde hair is pulled into two ponytails, and protruding from her red lips is a lit cigarette. She’s giving a big smile to the reader as she wields a chainsaw. Both women are covered in blood which separates their pictures, stating creator Dan Schaffer’s name and the title of this collection. Having read this book, this couldn’t have been a better image. Looking at this, you know exactly what you’re getting into. Hey, you’ve been warned. Overall grade: A  

The story: Before the story begins there’s a disclaimer that neither the author or publisher of this book is responsible for any murder or mayhem that results from one reading this. As with the cover, you’ve been warned. Dan Schaffer begins his saga with Nomi proclaiming, “I’ve just eaten human flesh.” to Brinkley, the girl the club they’re at is named after. Brinkley is awe at the beauty of Nomi and tells the professed cannibal that she’s paid to attend this club with all her A-List friends, like Nomi. The imaginary character that has accompanied Nomi to the event tells her to push Brinkley off the balcony, and she obeys. Two officers who arrive later on the scene have some interesting commentary: one is upset because he bet in a dead pool she’d die differently, while the other says that Brinkley didn’t really do anything for living “…except show up.” The story then moves to Talula who’s talking with a book publisher. He wants her to sign a contract, saying that she wrote a book (which is already written) because “I exploit hormones and greed by manufacturing product hysteria.” When she says she won’t sign, the man suggests an oral agreement, and she can get on her knees. You cannot imagine the amount of trouble that his words put him in. This story is not going to be for everyone; it’s incredibly graphic, but Schaffer needs it to be so to make his statements about celebrity, fashion, music, and to a lesser degree comic books. The commentary starts well, such as on Page 12 and 15, but it began to wear thin with the monologue that begins on 28 and ends on 36: it’s really too long. The point was made clear by the character, but became overkill — though that’s a quality of fame that’s discussed in this story. No matter what graphic, disgusting act these two do, and admit to, there’s a demand for them in some capacity, with the media hungry for more from them. Their spree reminded me of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, with Schaffer using violence to make commentary. Like Stone, he lingers too long on one point or chapter, but once a new character or setting is introduced things improve. I won’t lie, I did laugh in several places and find myself nodding often in agreement at what’s said. Outside of the commentary and the killers, the reoccurring policemen were good additions to the story, as was the detective, who has the greatest malfunctioning attachment in a comic book — ever. Schaffer is making some good points, but could have edited this into a tighter tale. Overall grade: B  

The art: This is my first encounter with Dan Schaffer and his artwork is very striking and varied. Every page is framed as though it was torn from a journal, complete with tears, tape, and blood. The first few pages look like typical comic book visuals with a few interesting changes. The first is how Brinkley is viewed by Nomi, which relies on the colors to understand what the model sees. Why she is illustrated in this manner consumes one character who appears on 25. The second instance from the beginning is Nomi’s imaginary friend. This individual is — was — a celebrity who’s gone on to become an icon. Choosing this person to whisper atrocities to the woman makes the notion of this character’s fame questionable. At the bottom of Page 14 Schaffer uses a black and white style which continues until 20 and it is amazing. Had the entire book been done in this style it would have looked terrific, and I would have preferred the art more. However, Schaffer wisely mixes things up, interrupting his story with full page, often double-page, advertisements, that are both sick and funny. Page 112 mixes the black and white art with blood red, a whole lot of red and it perfectly suits the text and the setting. This is a good time to mention the excellent coloring by Schaffer. Blood doesn’t just spurt, it flows graphically, consuming characters and panels. Halfway through the book I expected to see its flow increase, and I wasn’t disappointed. There is also some strong lettering, with some a specific font devoted to Talula when she kills someone. Without spoiling what it’s for, Schaffer nailed this. The final two pages of the book close out this pair’s saga perfectly, frozen in action as if at a film’s conclusion. Like the story, the visuals aren’t for everyone, but they worked for me. Overall grade: A-

The final line: This is a one-man show about two women who are insane, and their public doesn’t care. The story becomes a little too preachy at times, with the author’s voice overpowering the characters, but I found myself laughing and agreeing with their statements more times than not. This is not for children, or your mother, but for those who want to take a peek behind fame’s curtain. Just be careful, you might lose your eyes. Hey, you’ve been warned. Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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