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BLACK CHERRY
By DOUG TENNAPEL (Image Comics; 2007)

A graphic novel horror/noir pastiche that’s funny and outrageous. Writer/illustrator Doug Tennapel clearly knows his noir, as evinced by his ultra-stark, SIN CITY-esque black and white imagery, and he twists the material in all sorts of delightfully unexpected ways.

     Eddie Paretti is a small time hood upset about the disappearance of his stripper GF Black Cherry, who skipped out on him “before I could give her the ring I stole.” Needing money, Eddie agrees to steal a frozen corpse from his mob boss’ house. Needless to add, all sorts of trouble ensues, especially when Eddie discovers that the corpse he’s after a). isn’t really dead, and b). isn’t really human!

     Further complications arrive in the form of an angry priest who claims the not-dead corpse was stolen from his church, and the reappearance of Black Cherry--or at least a woman who looks a lot like her. It seems the corpse is actually an alien named Harold, and that an army of demon monks are hot on his trail. The demons want to possess Harold, seeing as how they have limited powers when possessing humans but apparently not so with an alien. But as Harold is quick to point out, “Jesus didn’t die for aliens,” and so catholic iconography doesn’t work on him the way it does on everyone else.

     Among other things, Tennapel has fun with religion, so much so that he includes an introduction in which he proclaims that “Modern stories have made sweeping efforts to hide or show embarrassment regarding our religious identity…I refuse to bow to this pressure for the same reason I don’t remove the F-word from my dialogue…” Nor is Tennapel’s story all about demons and aliens, as an angel turns up in the final third and Eddie Paretti even undergoes a religious conversion of sorts.

     There’s also plenty of bloody mayhem in this hilarious and profane goof that moves fast, is easy to read and contains a good text-image ratio. If there’s any redeeming social value to be found herein I missed it, but as a full blast of illustrated excess BLACK CHERRY can’t be faulted.  

     

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