Lenore: Cooties Review

Roman Dirge’s creation Lenore somehow manages to make gothic cartoon horror cute. She’s a simple series of lines, but the way Dirge manipulates those lines and uses colour so effectively to create vivid but gloomy backgrounds is complex and impressive. Occasionally there will be a single, subtle difference between frames that helps convey the timescale and small details like the reactions of Lenore and her friends. This is the third volume of her exploits and arguably the best!

The cast of characters, including several old faces and new introductions Pooty and Ouchie Boo Boo, enhance the already rich world Dirge has constructed around the eponymous little dead girl.

In all honesty, some of the character’s back-stories are more entertaining than the events of this book (not that seeing Lenore and co. fending off a siege of mice and an army of zombie Nazis isn’t entertaining!) – especially her side-kick Ragamuffin, the vampire trapped in the form of a ragdoll. Each character is memorable, easily-recognisable and perfectly rendered with their individual personalities. Even those with only a small part to play reveal just enough about themselves to create an identity.

There are a few nice extras in there too, which break up the comics; perfect if you’ve got a short attention span. Dirge’s short, autobiographical strips are very funny and the “dope-ass tattoo flash” may actually encourage a few fans to go under the needle. There’s a smattering of in-jokes between Roman and his creative peers (notably in “Lenore meets Deady”) that make him seem really likable – there’s a strong connection between author and character. His use of words brings Lenore to life – even if she is undead – because she speaks and reacts exactly how you’d imagine any back-from-the-grave ten year old would. You may never have thought about that before, but if you try now, you will undoubtedly be thinking about Lenore whether or not you’re familiar with her! It’s a genius concept for a cartoon and there’s so much more for Dirge to do with Lenore that hopefully there lay several more volumes ahead of the three.

The only real criticism is that, at times, it goes a bit heavy on the toilet humour. It’s a gimmick, or at least a feature, but at times the silly gross-out comments go a tad too far – the last disease poor Ragamuffin gets during the comic is a prime example of this. Overall, ‘Cooties’ is a classic compendium of macabre humour, creative talents and some amusing anecdotes. It’ll satisfy existing Lenore fans but is enjoyable as a stand-alone book as well and, with its red hardcover, would make an excellent and unique gift for the festive season!

Lauren Felton

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