March 23, 2005

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Crickets, by Sammy Harkham (Drawn & Quarterly, 2006)

The world of indie comics is oft times a strange one and Crickets, a new series by Sammy Harkham, draws heavily on that weird landscape.

In the opening panels of the book, a stranger is riddled with arrows and set on fire and falls off a cliff. He survives and offers a laugh of relief once he catches his breath. Then an arrow buries itself in his eye and he dies.

For now.

Along comes a mute chicken-chasing golem whose very presence brings our hero(?) back to bruised and skewered life. There’s a catch, of course: every time our man strays too far from the golem, he dies again.

So, who is our hero, what’s in the sack he carries on his belt and why does he need to get to Liadi? Who knows?

What we do know it that death and violence seem to follow him. A chance encounter with a father and son results in mayhem, a short-lived truce and then death.

Or maybe it’s the golem who draws the violence. He’s like Lenny in Of Mice and Men, strong and slow but more than capable of killing out of fear or anger.

Harkham is the editor of the comics anthology Kramers Ergot and indie fans might recognize his drawing style from Drawn & Quarterly’s Showcase #3, where his story “Somersaulting” appeared. Harkham’s drawing is spare and more suggestive than detailed. He doesn’t use much in the way of shading or shadow, making most of his scenes look like they were illuminated with floodlights. It’s an interesting look, but it limits the artist’s ability to show nuance.

By telling the reader nothing, Harkham is obviously trying to pique our curiosity enough to make us buy issue two for answers. However, he doesn’t give nearly enough information to make us care about what happens.

This first issue of Crickets is vaguely intriguing, but it is not enough to make we want to check in with number two. C

— Robert Greene


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