Dead Man Holiday

By | Sunday, July 27, 2008 Leave a Comment
Colin Panetta has a mission with Dead Man Holiday. He notes in his introduction that "most genre-based comics are pretty vapid and pander to their readers, and most personal work is firmly grounded in reality." So, with Dead Man Holiday, Panetta wants to create a comic that strikes a solid balance between the two, looking superficially like a "haunted science-fiction" genre book but is in fact deeply personal.

Thad Planck is a security guard whose job is to patrol a flooded city colloquially known as Little Atlantis, named that because it was flooded (and abandoned) during some undisclosed disaster. During one of his patrols, Thad stumbles across a living skeleton who easily resists Thad's attempts to apprehend or subdue it. His boss believes his story, making Thad wonder which of the two of them is crazier. He then loses himself in thoughts about a young woman he encounters on the way home.

I certainly give credit to Panetta for accomplishing his basic goals. The book is clearly science-fiction with some spooky/haunted overtones; there's some reasonably clear allusions to it being a personal work; and he doesn't pander to the readers. It took me a third read to fully understand how the opening sequence actually ties in with the rest of the story. Although this was in part due to a slightly different illustration style (Panetta notes that he drew that sequence considerably earlier than the others) it was also because it does force the reader to concentrate on the storytelling moreso than most books. I might consider than a weakness in many works, but since A) Panetta has stated that was part of his intent, and B) the rest of the book flows smoothly, I'm willing to chalk that up to having become accustomed to the spoon-feeding of other creators.

The storytelling, as I said, is very smooth for the most part. Panetta does a good job of restraining himself from getting overly verbose, and relies heavily on the art to tell us what's happening. His illustrations are good and fairly consistent. It's not an illustration style I'm overly fond of personally, but Panetta clearly knows his way around a brush. He actually does use it to very good effect in a number of places, forcing the reader's eye to specific portions of the page, based almost wholly on how he applies the tones and blacks.

Speaking of blacks, I might also point out that the book is printed very well. Higher quality paper with crisp blacks and a good blend of greys. Panetta's art would almost certainly look muddy if it were printed in a lower quality, but that's not the case here. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the quality of printing enhances the final product as I'm able to compare a printed version side-by-side to a digital version he has online.

What you may have noticed, though, is that I haven't really said how successful the book is overall. I've expressly avoided that because I think it's impossible to say at this juncture. It'd be like trying to evaluate The Prisoner or Lost based on a single episode. Panetta does seem to know what he's doing, but I think it's a little too early to tell if the payoff will be worth it. That being said, though, it's a very promising start and worth keeping an eye out for.

You can visit for preview pages or to order a pulped wood copy of the book. DriveThru Comics has a free copy available for download here.
Newer Post Older Post Home