Two People Shorten The Road – BOG BODIES Review
Bog Bodies Review
Written by Declan Shalvey
Art by Gavin Fullerton
An original graphic novel from Image Comics
Bog Bodies is an original graphic novel from comic book artist Declan Shalvey. Drawing inspiration from the archaeological history of Ireland’s bogs, Shalvey weaves together a poignant crime thriller. Set in Dublin and the mountains outside the city, the story centers around a low level gangster named Killian. An errand boy for the Irish mob, one of Killian’s jobs is to help dispose of bodies in the bogs around Dublin. During one of these disposal jobs, Killian finds himself on the wrong end of his crew. After managing to escape, he runs into a young woman. Now hunted by gangsters, the two must work together to escape their pursuers and survive the night.
True to the story’s setting (and Shalvey’s background) all the dialogue in this comic is written in an Irish vernacular. Although it gives the story an authenticity, there were times I found the dialogue a little difficult to understand. Luckily, I learned a trick from reading the Scottish prose in Irvine Welsh’s novels. For those having trouble following the dialogue in Bog Bodies, try reading it out loud. Hearing it aloud helps the brain process what the eyes are having difficulty translating. Shalvey creates an exhilarating sense of foreboding throughout the story. This tension doesn’t just come from the predicament that Killian finds himself in. Through most of the narrative the reader is left with a feeling that something else is going on beneath the surface of the plot. These sub-textual cues add tension to an already intense crime thriller.
Although I enjoyed the story, Fullerton’s art stood out to me as the highlight of Bog Bodies. Fullerton draws in a minimalist style that manages clear visuals without the need for a lot of fine detail. There are multiple full page spreads that are drawn and colored beautifully. In fact, the coloring stands out through the entire book. Light sources illuminate parts of a panel while creating realistic shadows in other parts. Every scene is drawn with the story’s nighttime setting in mind. Fullerton uses combinations of deep blues and greens as well as gray and black to highlight the characters while giving each panel a shadowy backdrop.
The highest praise I can pay to Bog Bodies is that the ending was completely unpredictable. Yes, it had all the climactic elements one can expect from this type of crime story, but the climax contained a twist that I did not see coming. Shalvey does a great job of not telegraphing or forcibly foreshadowing the shocking conclusion, leaving the reader to be surprised by the comic’s ending. Bog Bodies lives up to its tag as an original graphic novel. Shalvey takes a crime thriller that seems like it’s going to be a familiar story and elevates it with solid characters and a surprising ending. The quality writing is backed up by Fullerton’s beautiful artwork. Barring unexpected delays as comics begin shipping regularly again, Bog Bodies is set to be released on May 27. Talk to your local comic book store about getting a copy today.
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Bog Bodies Review
Shalvey weaves together a poignant crime thriller.