It’s hard to find TV drama quality, and I’m talking Breaking Bad, Oz or Sons of Anarchy level badass drama, in comics. Most likely because there aren’t actors on the page to make dialogue and moments of extreme stress sing. Unless of course you have the right artist that is, and my money is on a new prison drama from Dynamite that they found their man, but is it good?
Damnation of Charlie Wormwood #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Just a heads up, the first six issues can be purchased on Comixology right now. It seems Dynamite is republishing it, at least via paper, as it was a digital only book to start.
The artist on this book, known as Chee, has an impeccable illustrated style that makes each character feel all the more real. Sort of like a camera filter that makes people look drawn, the images look a click of a filter button away from being real. That’s key for the brooding emotion boiling inside this book. The fact that it’s in black and white helps anchor this as a real life tale—I’m thinking color would make it pop far too much—as if it were a black and white movie or TV show.
Seems pretty cool with going to prison…oh, he must work there.
Speaking of TV shows, the book is told in chapters, almost like episodes of a show and it’s a cool way to begin and end sequences, adding a bit of extra juice to the drama. Things don’t get resolved each chapter, oh no, and this carries over into the next chapter. We know things are brewing and building, but it’s a start with a new chapter so maybe it’ll be different, you might think. So when things boil over again, far worse even, you feel it all the more.
The comic is about a man named Charlie Wormwood who teaches a class on Monte Cristo to a group of prisoners. His son is sick and bedridden in the hospital with bills flowing in faster than he can pay them. Not an ideal situation for stress levels with so much going on at home and then going to work and dealing with crass, uninterested and mean prisoners. On top of all this his wife never sees him and his insurance is going to stop. Of course there’s a prisoner aware of all this and offers him a deal. Countless times, in fact, in this very issue. Charlie wants to do the right thing, but can he just let his son die?
This is your life.
Writers Christina Blanch and Chris Carr do a top notch job with dialogue and a slow build to the drama. This might be a bit slow for some readers, but believe me on this that the book will reward your patience. Full disclosure, I was reading this comic while driving and had to pull over to finish it. It was just that good. I was pulled into Charlie’s small little life and didn’t want to miss a second of it. Sounds familiar? That’s because the writing, art and pace are about as good as any TV drama.
The only issue I came across was Charlies outbursts, which seem overblown and shocking. When asked about his son he screams out that it’s none of the prisoner’s business. I get he’s under a lot of stress, but his anger is so high on the scale it seems unbelievable. Maybe this is a situation where an actor would sell it better, but it threw me off of the man’s emotions.
Just keep teachin’ teach!
Is It Good?
A top notch drama set in a prison with real emotions, compelling characters and a satisfying story.