Arsenic Lullaby: The Devil’s Decade by Douglas Paszkiewicz

Arsenic Lullaby: The Devil’s Decade
by Douglas Paszkiewicz
A. L. Publishing, 2011

First of all, the spelling is atrocious. Not just the hand-lettered stuff, where the occasional e before i goof is forgivable, but also in the informative notes Paszkiewicz provides between the chapters of this indie comic compilation, gleefully relating how the notorious monopoly Diamond Comics Distributors were squarely on his side because of his remarkable sales figures. It claims to utilize phonetic spelling, but there’s also gaps in tricky words where he’s obviously intended to go back later and make corrections, and then not bothered.

The entire enterprise is characterized by this somewhat half-arsed approach to detail*, which only emphasizes Arsenic Lullaby’s achievement in laying out the blueprint for a style of nihilistic American dark comedy perfected by Family Guy.

There’s Edgar Bryers, an agent who seeks to make government records more accurate by hunting down and killing babies born after the last census, as though they were rogue dictators. There’s the grouchy Voodoo Joe with his adorable army of zombie fetuses rescued from the dumpster of the local abortion clinic. There’s also Baron Von Donut, a magical ad mascot who brings doughnuts to children everywhere, even if they happen to be in Auschwitz: “Uh… You guys sure are hungry.” This stuff is frequently hilarious, but also gauche in a “I can’t believe he said that!” way. When you slay every sacred cow, you end up with a pile of dead cows.

* To be even more pedantic about something no-one cares about anymore, even the copyright notice has a wayward apostrophe.

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