By Marty Mulrooney
Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl is a series of dark comedy comics created by Roman Dirge. Lenore Volume 1 consisted of Noogies (Issues 1-4), Wedgies (Issues 5-8) and Cooties (Issues 9-12), all published by Titan Books in the UK. Lenore Volume 2 begins with Lenore: Swirlies, a new collection of the creepy and hilarious comic strip, which was released in August 2012 – just in time to celebrate Lenore’s 20th Anniversary!
For the as-yet uninitiated, Lenore is a 10-year-old undead girl, who lives in a mansion with her friends Pooty (a bucket-headed bounty hunter) and Ragamuffin (a vampire who has been turned into a rag doll). She also has an obsessive admirer named Mr. Gosh, a dead man with a sack over his head and big button eyes, who Lenore repeatedly murders.
Lenore: Swirlies tells several different stories. The main story involves a cyborg mortician who has returned after 100 years to finish embalming Lenore – this tale also serves as an origin story, of sorts, for our undead anti-heroine. In another story, Lenore gate-crashes a children’s birthday party with horrific results. She accidentally pulls out a boy’s brain with a knife, before tying him to some balloons in the hope that the body will float away undiscovered. Instead, the corpse falls from the sky and kills another boy. Don’t even ask about the accidental pony murder spree after it has a hot dog shot up its… ahem.
Other highlights include Mr. Gosh’s cupcake castle and Lenore’s peculiar gardening experiments where she plants Ragamuffin at night in the hope of creating ‘Raga-kittens’ (which is surprisingly not the worst thing she has done to him while he’s sleeping. Lenore has taken many photos over the years, including one of Ragamuffin asleep with a rifle surrounded by SWAT officers in a grocery store playing a game she made up called “obvious sniper”).
It’s probably a cliché by now, but Roman Dirge’s artwork is as Tim Burton-esque as ever (delightfully so) and the writing is fantastic – every punchline hits its mark. This is dark humour found at the end of a pitch black, bottomless pit. You shouldn’t laugh, but you will. It’s a fine line to tread when it comes to comedy and horror – Roman Dirge can make you laugh and feel repulsed at the same time without ever resorting to being too crude or cheap.
Lenore: Swirlies is another splendid collection of Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl comics. Alongside the main stories, Roman Dirge also includes a few short standalone tales as well, some featuring events from his own life (the ‘barstool button’) and others that are totally random but equally as funny (‘The Parasol Princess’ is a hilarious, touching poem with a surprise gory ending). Lenore: Swirlies will have longtime fans grinning from ear to ear and is also a great starting point for newcomers too. The short length is a shame – it’s 112 pages of quality dark humour, but you’ll certainly want more to read once you’ve turned the final page!
9 OUT OF 10