Shiny Shelf

Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero

By Mark Clapham on 03 October 2008

Sometimes, we get sent stuff: review or preview copies of comics, occasionally the odd DVD or screening ticket. We are always tremendously grateful for these offerings. However, we are also assholes, and so frequently don’t get around to reviewing these things for ages due to other work demands, commitments or simple cluelessness.
So, apologies to Douglas Paskiewicz (Doug from here on in, not because I know the guy but because I’ll never get those consonants in the right order with any consistency) for sending us his comic. Doug sent me the first issue of ‘Arsenic Lullaby’ a while back, but it got shuffled around due to house moves and general disorganisation on my part. Sorry, Doug. If it’s any consolation, ‘Lullaby’ was the sickest thing I’d read in a while.
‘Arsenic Lullaby’ is a compilation of short humour strips, some single page gag strips, others longer narratives. (My one complaint about the book would be that as none of the strips are titled, there’s no clear distinction where one skit ends and another begins apart from the change of characters and setting. It’s mostly obvious, but for some reason it’s disconcerting. Better signposting next time would help.) The subject matter includes such bad taste staples as children and babies (dead or injured), Nazis, grievous injury or murder, alcoholics, and the Klan (well, a cult who look like the Klan, including the one black member who is uncomfortable with the new, white hooded uniforms). Anyone looking to be offended should have plenty to pick from.
Doug’s strips are, thankfully, also consistently amusing, often inventive and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. My personal favourites were the adventures of a talking, top-hatted, alcoholic donut, and a couple of one-page strips about a little train that could (then wished it hadn’t). However, any reasonably despicable individual will have their own preferences. The writing is sharp, with some great quips and a fine eye for exactly how long a gag should be sustained for. The art is also very nice too, especially in terms of characterisation – Doug’s long-faced characters seem specifically designed to display varying levels of dismay, from slight frowning to outright panic, a good stylistic choice considering what ends up happening to them. I could have done with a little more shading to indicate depth and texture ( I suspect the current openness of the black and white art is being left unshaded to leave room for future colouring), but that’s a minor complaint.
This is good, sick, funny stuff from a potential rising star of (very dark) humour strips. Highly recommended, unless you have any decency. And what are the chances of that, hmmm?

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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