From writer Dave Cook (‘Killtopia’ and more) and artist Donna A Black, ‘Deadliner’ is at heart a simple tale of writer’s block, and in reality a dark, twisted psychological puzzle that challenges the readers to take away from it whatever each one chooses.

Our un-named protagonist is a writer working on that difficult second book, using the suicide of another friend, also a writer, to put off actually starting his overdue novel. He checks into a retreat to chill out and start creating, but his own mind starts to battle with his creative juices, with the resulting nightmares invading both his reality and his sleep.

If this all sounds a bit vague, then that’s because ‘Deadliner’ is a bit vague, rewarding careful reading and even then you might get a different conclusion about what happens to the next reader. What is is, is quite unsettling and incredibly atmospheric, and this is down to two factors. First is Donna Black’s haunting artwork, reminding me a LOT of Dave McKean. It might be a challenge for some, as it’s certainly not anything like traditional comic book art, but it totally suits the story. Second factor is that the whole thing is told by narration in the first person, with no speech balloons or scene setting text boxes. Combine the two and you join the writer in his anguish in the death of his friend, his mojo and maybe his sanity.

‘Deadliner’ is a beautiful piece of work, and a very mature one that eschews the more traditional storytelling of comics for a dark marriage of art and text that can only end in mutual destruction. It’s a slow burner, for sure, but if you back it (still got a couple of weeks) you will get something that may stay with you a while, especially if you’re a writer.

Back it here:

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