By Marty Mulrooney
Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl is a comic series created by Roman Dirge, inspired by the poem ‘Lenore’ by Edgar Alan Poe. Lenore is – quite literally – a cute little dead girl who lives in a place called Nevermore with her collection of extremely odd friends. Lenore: Cooties collects issues 9, 10, 11 and 12 of Lenore’s original comic, now digitally remastered and recoloured by Roman Dirge.
I was slightly wary when I first picked up Lenore: Cooties to review, especially seeing as, along with Lenore: Noogies and Lenore: Wedgies, all three books combine to create Lenore Volume 1. Much to my relief, although Lenore: Cooties picks up the story quite some time after the beginning (this isn’t the first collection sequentially), I was quickly drawn in by the Tim Burton-esque artwork (a comparison I usually hate, but that is totally apt here) and sharply humorous dialogue. I was laughing out loud within minutes.
Lenore: Cooties collects several comic strips with an overarching narrative, although several standalone stories are also included. At the beginning of the book, Lenore is dug up from her grave by Ragamuffin, a vampire who has been turned into a rag doll. She is also visited by Mr Gosh, who is essentially a dead person with a sack stuck over his head. A running joke throughout the comics is that Mr Gosh loves Lenore, although instead of embracing this, she instead kills him in increasingly violent and cruel ways.
The main story involves Pooty, a bounty hunter sent from the underworld to reclaim Lenore. Instead, he ends up becoming her friend and decides to, alongside Ragamuffin, Mr Gosh and a whole host of other assorted weirdoes, defend Lenore from the forces of evil sent to reclaim her. Armed dead Nazi zombie forces…
The story and characters are absolutely crazy, but Roman Dirge still manages to ground everything despite this. It never feels as if he is just making everything up as he goes along and there is quite a surprisingly engaging narrative beneath the jokes and gore. Although separate from the main story, the comic strip detailing the literal enactment of ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ is a hilarious highlight: the monkey literally trying to save his weasel friend, who keeps exploding in a torrent of blood and guts.
I was pleasantly surprised by my first step into the world of Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl. Although at first it can all appear rather silly and bizarre, Roman Dirge manages to pull everything together with razor sharp humour, great illustrations and impeccable comic timing. Also, despite the light-hearted nature of the story, the stakes still feel high when they should and each character is well defined and surprisingly likeable. Perhaps not the best place to start for newcomers, but a book I thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless. I certainly intend to go back and start from the very beginning! Lenore, I am now officially a fan.
9 OUT OF 10