The Scribbler (Image Comics)

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Writer/artist Dan Schaffer crafts a tale where the art isn't the only thing in shades of gray.

 

96 pgs B&W, $7.99

(W/A Dan Schaffer)

 

The cover to 
In The Scribbler, Dan Schaffer (creator of the series Dogwitch) presents a world in which psychological medicine has found a cure for multiple personalities: The Siamese Burn Treatment, or, as test patient and Scribbler protagonist Suki prefers, The Machine. In this one-volume story, Suki and her friend Hogan discover that The Machine doesn't just kick out your excess head-baggage. Sometimes, it brings out the worst in people...and dogs.

 

We follow Suki as her personalities are burned away. It comes down to her and her "primary alter" The Scribbler, so-named for her habit of writing on walls, floors, and whatever doesn't move too fast-backwards. The Scribbler is spooky and silent, and her long-hair (which mysteriously grows when Suki changes into her) recalls images of that dead girl from The Ring. By the climax of the book, The Scribbler, dressed in a skeleton Halloween costume, seems an unlikely superhero.

 

Click thumbnail for a larger imageThe story is for the most part engaging, but could use a little more development. There are some really interesting flashes back into Suki's history, but they are too brief and the audience is never given a reason to care about the characters beyond the fact that the book is about them. Because the book is less than 100 pages long, the pacing is quick and leaves a less-than-lasting impression.

 

What does stick with you is the message of the story. The "Machine" is a thinly veiled comment on the behavioral drugs of today's world. So many people now are medicated to quiet their "problems," but with this story, Schaffer asks at what cost this kind of chemical assimilation comes. What if these problems are what make us who we are?

 

Click thumbnail for a larger imageThe art also leaves quite an impression. The world of The Scribbler is dark and gloomy, but draws the reader into its shades of gray. The lines are very soft and painterly, and a mist seems to drift through the panels. This is perfect for a psychological thriller, and lends some mystery to the story the art accompanies. Schaffer is also quite adept at blending eastern and western comics art influences; sometimes it's easy to forget this book isn't imported manga.

 

Fans of science fiction in the vein of The Matrix and Dark City will probably find The Scribbler to be a fun read, and it's a perfect graphic novel for a misunderstood high school-er, but it ultimately lacks depth. This isn't Watchmen, folks, but for the price and the length, it may be perfect for a rainy afternoon or a plane trip.

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