The first issue of this rather surprisingly good comic from Black Mask dealt with gentrification and the wealthy literally turning using the homeless into meat. Sure there’s a mystery wrapped round this core plot but the message creators Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and Eric Zawadzki are putting forth.
We pick this issue up with our protagonist Arnold, being prepped for dinner, but without giving too much away he escapes (after all, the series would be quickly over) and we have the story propel itself onward as we’re reminded we’re being told this story through the eyes of a homeless man.
It gets a bit Singing Detective which is fine; drawing from Dennis Potter is something the likes of Alan Moore has done in the past.
After the gorier first issue this one takes us deeper into the mystery, but for us as readers we know why the homeless people are vanishing, just we don’t know exactly who as yet is responsible for this.
The Dregs really is a pleasant surprise. A good script trying to say something more than superheroics or fantasy, and some fine art clearly influenced by European styles.
This is great stuff and does things with the medium few other monthly comics do. If you’ve not tried this then I urge you to give it a look.
The synopsis for this new title from publisher Black Mask goes like this:
A gentrified city. Its homeless population restricted to six square blocks called The Dregs. When people start disappearing, a drug-addled homeless man obsessed with detective fiction becomes addicted to solving the mystery. Equal parts Raymond Chandler and Don Quixote set in a thriving metropolis that literally cannibalizes the homeless, The Dregs is the first homeless meta noir ever made.
The first two sentences of the pitch intrigued me. The latter two less so.
From the off the comic makes clear exactly what’s going on in the city of Vancouver and what’s going on with the homeless population.
They’re being slaughtered for meat.
In the city of the future meat is at a premium so with the homeless being disposable the solution to the problems of feeding a city is to turn the homeless into food. In terms of allegory and political point The Dregs isn’t exactly subtle in terms of dealing with the harsh reality of gentrification.
There then follows a mystery to find out why homeless people are vanishing and the comic becomes a noir-ish mystery.
The Dregs is a surprising good, as well as original book, or at least trying to do something different rather than just rehash old ideas. This is helped by a fine artistic style that steps away from traditional American comic art and feels more European, which is in fact quite pleasing to see. This is trying to be different, as well as political and the creators should be applauded for coming up with this interesting new comic.