Review: The Vale

This book is the definition of hard to read, but not due to quality. I didn't mind this book. Once I got rolling with what it was about, it was a pleasant enough if not memorable timewaster. But I'll be damned if this book doesn't have some severe visual problems. Firstly, the book is written in extremely thick British slang, complete with 'dem's in place of 'them's and 'ta's in place of 'the's. I can't fault it for this because it is necessary for the local tone of the book, but I mention it to illustrate how it might compound the latter two issues. Second, I don't know exactly what font they used but it didn't help. It's not terrible or offensive, but the 'D's when read quickly looked like 'O's without bolding, and the kerning made letters run together in places. It's a minor technical problem, one that I adjusted to after a few pages, but again, it resulted in making the third problem more challenging to deal with.

The-Vale-(One-Shot)-10.22.14Third, probably the most unfortunate issue of the whole book is it is also in black and white. This is often done for keeping costs down and is frequently a credit to the book's art, but the linework here is dense, detailed, and untidy. What's worse is the linework isn't terrible. Everything has a certain personality and charm to it, featuring some good character design and detail. However, this is not linework suited to black and white, the panels are too crowded and the figures aren't distinct enough, requiring added reading time to sort the mish-mash of visual elements before continuing. It's tragic because I think I could give this book a recommendation if it had some solid colors to sort everything out. And by solid I do mean someone other than whoever did the cover because...ah...not so great.

Shit, I haven't even covered what this book is about yet. The aforementioned issues were just so overbearing it was my main takeaway from reading it and I feel pretty bad about that. This book has too much creativity to let this issue be its defining attribute. Creators, if you are reading, please get this book colored. I think everybody would benefit from it.

Okay, the book is set in a Lovecraft mythos hybrid world, regarding a human and a Cthulu-like squidman taking a trip to a magically enhanced stag party, leading to hookers, grand levels of intoxication, and vengeful kicks to the knackers. That's really about it, but despite its sophomoric set up I actually found it mildly charming. It should be mentioned that this is kind of amazing since this is a comedy book that I didn't laugh at once. There's some world-building which smarts of some real creativity and the characters, despite their monster parts, actually feel like real people. Crass, boozy people, but people. The book is a one-shot, and I'm unsure if it's related to a larger property or not, but I wouldn't be opposed to reading more if there were to be more tales to be told in this world.

It's too bad that the book is so hard to read visually, because it doesn't have to be. This is a book that deserves some praise for not punishing me with what I expected from the cover; another booze/drug comedy book written by uninspired unfunny juveniles. There's unusual effort here and I appreciate that. Really.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Brett Uren & F Harmon Artist: Brett Uren Publisher: Dead Universe Publishing Price: $4.50 Format: One-Shot; Print Website