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Bar Crawl of the Damned, Issue #1 and Special #1
written and illustrated by William Morton
Mortco

Bar Crawl of the Damned
William Morton
William Morton is the MORTCO's publisher. Other titles from MORTCO besides Bar Crawl of the Damned include Beyond the Wall of Sleep by R. Andrew Heidel. They can be reached at:
MORTCO
PO Box 1430 Cooper Station
New York, NY 10276

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Kristen Pederson

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"Hello, and welcome to our comic!"
"To put you at ease and to let you in on the joke, we're monsters."
"I'm Kurt, a werewolf."
"And I'm Sean, a vampire."
"But you can relax, this isn't a horror book or a weepy Anne Rice saga."
"It's more like the Munsters -- if the Munsters hung out in bars and drank."
"A lot!"

And there you have it: the basic premise of Bar Crawl of the Damned. Kurt and Sean are out on the Eternal Bar Crawl: go out to a few pubs, get drunk, and have low-key adventures. Episodic rather than pursuing one particular continuous story line, I read issue one a few months ago, giggled, and thought, "OK, that's that. Fun idea, but it's a one-off joke. You can't maintain it." That said, I have just read BCotD Special #1, and have realized that, surprisingly, two cheerily alcoholic monsters have a lot more steam than I initially thought. I passed issue two to a friend at work, who promptly spent the next ten minutes standing in my office, laughing. He didn't even bother to go back to his own office to read it: had to do it on the spot. That's pretty good.

In issue #1, Kurt and Sean crash a frat party, and in another episode, fall for the same girl. We are also provided with a handy guide to the exciting world of bar culture, and are introduced to Skully, a guy that has a very active life for a skull. The humour is understated and wry, and is never in any danger of taking itself too seriously. This is the sort of comic that most people dream up on pub crawls, but don't have the talent to pull off sober.

With Bar Crawl of the Damned Special #1, some of the rough edges that were present in issue #1 have started to smooth out. Again, there are two Kurt and Sean episodes, along with three one-page shorts with the multi-faceted Skully, a short analysis of drunken rants, and a four-page short where Sean hosts and Kurt guests on an undead version of The Dating Game. The two Kurt and Sean episodes show that William Morton is starting to really get his teeth into the characters, and is starting to stretch his imagination to exactly what to do with the Monstrous Duo to keep them from being a one-off joke. In the first episode, "The Hep and the Haunted; or Ghost of the Beat Generation," we learn how Sean became a vampire and find out that his soul is still hanging out as a ghost and is getting tired of limbo. The second, "Paperback Demons," involves a battered copy of the Necronomicon, three demons (the art is very good here), and the basic problem of what to do with demons when you have them.

Kurt: See... I got this copy of the Necronomicon at a swap meet... It's the ultimate text of the Black Arts... We can use it to open up a portal to Hell and get ourselves some minions!"

Sean (shot of something in hand): Aaaand... we need minions why?

I have had a lot of fun reading these first two issues. The art is well done in a nice, clear, representational pen and ink that isn't too artsy. The layout is good, the panels are not too cluttered, and Morton has a pleasing style that's fun to look at. Kurt is a big, round, terminally cheerful biker-leather-Punisher-t-shirt-wearing werewolf with long hair, pointy ears, a pointy grin, and a frightening capacity for alcohol. Sean is long-faced, pasty and cadaverous, with blank eyes, long black hair, and a slightly more bemused and confused expression. He's a little more introspective than the relentlessly energetic Kurt, but that may just mean that he's more in touch with his navel.

The soundtrack for this comic would have "Lust For Life" by Iggy Pop, "Home for a Rest" and "The Crawl" by Spirit of the West, and "Song" by Blur. These people remind me of my university drinking buddies, in the best possible way. No angst here: just fun and an absolute willingness to embrace the absurd without being too silly. It reads like you feel when you're out with your very best friends on a Friday night at your favourite pub, the tunes are upbeat and bright, that first drink is singing golden in your blood, and all the week's tensions have just said "hasta la vista."

Bring out the third round.

Copyright © 1998 by Kristen Pederson

Kristen Pederson has the rare distinction of being the only person in Canada to have worked at two Canadian science fiction bookstores: the House of Speculative Fiction in Ottawa, and Bakka Books in Toronto. Nowadays, she works in academic publishing and reads science fiction and fantasy to keep her grip on reality.


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