Since I don’t write reviews I am not held to any particular form or structure when I talk about what I read and decided to review.
When I picked up this book, I happened to be in the presence of a famed comic reviewer and his initial impression was likely the same most people from the professional comic industry might take: Meh.
I kept looking at it. There was something about the work which held my attention at a unconscious level. I kept reading it. I kept wanting to read it. I picked it up and took it home.
I think I was fortunate when I found Dayblack the way I did. I found it in a compilation and was able flow smoothly from the first story directly into the second. I’m one of those people who hates to wait when I discover something I really like. The first time I read it was at 3:00 AM. One of those nights I knew my insomnia would not let go. It seemed to be just the kind of state of mind to take in a tale of vampiric woe.
Except it wasn’t a tale of woe. If anything it seemed as if Merce, the resident vampire had managed to come to a kind of homeostasis with his condition. He lived without drawing attention to himself. In most ways he seemed a normal guy trying to retire into obscurity.
In my opinion, Dayblack is an artistic coup, from its every stylistic page of woven black, white and red inks, the story makes me wish I were reading it off the back of the thigh of an amply-gifted women, ingesting it, laced with her blood, a psychedelic roar, making me forget everything about my life and just for a moment entering that of the maestro of misery in this tale of woe, Merce, vampire tattoo artist.
But the book doesn’t let you go that easily. We see Merce’s life and while we walk with him through his life, we relate with him and how his choices lent themselves to his current state. This in turns reveals a web of things slowly forming around our anti-hero, a web not completely of his making.
Bottom line: If I gave stars for reviews Dayblack would be rocking a five star rating. And a panel of judges who gave it the Glyph Award agreed with me… Why?
Because it’s in a class by itself. Defying the conventions of comic story telling, it’s unique art style makes me wiling to forgive it as the tautly told tale unravels at a smooth pace. I find myself taking the time to look deeper into the work, feeling it the way a tattoo artist wants you to see their artwork, as a collection of shapes, defining an overall structure whose meaning may transcribe, time, space, meaning and reason.
A good tattoo makes you forget where it is and connects you to a person who becomes a piece of a larger tapestry. Hopefully, by the time I write this I can find the second volume and won’t have to wait for it to arrive in the mail.
But it wouldn’t matter. Keef Cross, writer and artist, has secured my readership by creating a work of art in every sense of the word. I would exercise the patience of a vampire to get the next issues.
Conventional comic readers may not find Dayblack their cup of tea. My un-reviews are broader, stranger, more willing to tolerate imperfections, more willing to look deeply beneath the surface of a piece to find its hidden virtues.
Dayblack is such a work. Imperfect, non-standard, walking in a place separately removed of all things it might resemble.
Dayblack is a graphic novel, sequential art telling a story, a compelling tale you’ve heard before, the one of a vampire seeking to be left alone.
Dayblack is a movie you’ve seen, familiar but still able to give you thrill at all those places you know the dialogue by heart and maybe repeat when no one is watching it with you.
Dayblack is a singular vision, a story told by a writer whose still finding himself, stretching a little more each time he picks up his pen and then again when he draws his art.
Dayblack strips the story to its bare essentials, its artistic essence laid forth with a practiced hand seeking to caress the tender page leaving an indelible mark upon your psychic landscape.
Dayblack is a tale of seeking, of finding, of remembering and forgetting, a place of redemption, betrayal, frustration, and every so often, no one is looking just a touch of humanity from a being who is everything but.
Remember, I am not a critic. What works for me may not work for you. How I see a piece may be completely different than how you will. I defend my perspective by being a person who tries to see beyond to what the creator did and into what they intended.
Dayblack is a piece of art which carries its creator’s intention into reality — clean, beautiful, elegant art at every level of this creation.
Rosarium Publishing found a gem and Dayblack should sit proudly as a crown jewel. Looking forward to the next volume, Cross and Company.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. Since they insist on constant entertainment and can’t subscribe to cable, Thaddeus writes a variety of forms of speculative fiction to appease their hunger for new entertainment.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies: Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short(2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (UK, 2012), and Possibilities (2012).