By Dustin Cabeal
Ever just look at a cover and know that you’re going to love the hell out of something? Sure there are the occasional misses, but there was just something about the cover and art style of Dalston Monsterzz that just spoke to me. It hit all the right buttons and made my mouth water. Thankfully the story was equally as great because that would have been a letdown.
I’m going to remain pretty vague on the details because it’s not like you can grab this today, though if you could, I would highly recommend that you do. Monsters are suddenly real, and at first, they’re like animals, territorial and fighting. People are just trying their best to avoid them until a kid rides one. Instantly monsters become the new gang ride and of course fighting ensues.
The story follows a guy named Roshan as he’s released from Juvie. It’s unclear why he’s there at first, but it all becomes wrapped up in the story. After six months his best friend has found a girlfriend, and shit just isn’t the same. That and he’s having a hard time wrapping his head around the monsters at times. Eventually, he and his friend and the friend’s girlfriend get wrapped up in some shit, and it turns into The Warriors plus monsters, plus the Minotaur’s maze. If that sounds crazy, it is, but it’s also freaking brilliant.
All that said, it’s all background noise to the character development that’s being done in the story. Dilraj Mann develops three characters, they’re relationships to each other and tackles the difficulties of growing up and growing apart from people that you once thought we’d be in your life forever. The monsters and the journey are cool, but they’re very much a metaphor for the shit that changes in your life. The things you come up against and have to deal with in life.
The dialogue is smooth. All of the characters sound modern and real and yet without a ton of slang that would date the story. Some real world events inspire part of Roshan’s story which makes it relatable and again, not just about monsters. Mann is a gifted storyteller for sure.
Now for the artwork, the thing that drew me to this title in the first place. It’s goddamn candy. I just wanted to eat it up until my teeth hurt. The line work is thick, clean and detailed, but the designs are a 90s cartoon that grew up and changed with the times. I fucking loved it. The visual storytelling is just as strong as the written parts, and Mann benefits from being his own writer so that he can lay off the dialogue and narration and let the artwork do the storytelling.
The coloring is a part of the art’s success of course. It’s clean and varied. From the usual real world hues to the more neon and cinematic. It looks different than most comics but in a great way. It has this soft chalk like look to it at times. It elevated the already unique art style making it again, goddamn candy to be gobbled up by the eyes.
I know for a fact that Dalston Monsterzz will be on my best of list at the end of the year. It’s a great read, entertaining from beginning to end and exactly what I would like to see from modern graphic novels. Nothing here felt like an homage or a retread of familiar storylines. It didn’t follow all the “comic rules” and yet managed to fit into the same pretty package as it’s comic predecessors. Dalston Monsterzz is something special.
Creator: Dilraj Mann
Publisher: Nobrow Press