The Whale House

Published On May 31, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

The Whale House Part One

By Andrew Cheverton and Chris Doherty

As a first issue this collaboration between the writer of West and the creator of Video Nasties is a refreshing example of how to do the whole content/setup/mystery thing just right with plenty of reading across the 22 pages, with Doherty’s artwork regularly presented across 6/8 panels, yet never looking squashed, and rarely looking forced.

In fact, this first issue is pretty much everything I was hoping it might be – mysterious, intriguing, and eminently readable with both script and art easy and flowing. But just because it’s beautifully readable, that doesn’t mean there’s no chance for complexity, in fact, from the beginning you’re dropped into the story and thrown off balance. Straight away Cheverton is setting up something layered, something to think about….

The first page above gives us a character, a dream, a mystery. I have no idea who that is, where he is, what he’s doing there. I meet him again on the final page. And it’s even more confusing. But not in a frustrating fashion, more a satisfyingly mysterious one, and everything that Cheverton and Doherty do in the 22-pages of part one make me want to know more.

From that mysterious first page, it’s straight back to mundane reality, or at least a comic version of it, as we meet Diggory Wallis, a man driving away from his old life, his girlfriend, his friends, his family… or at least the family he thought he had – he’s just buried mom and dad, and just found out he was adopted. He’s a man driving away from an old life, just to get away, get a little space.

But there’s a breakdown, and he’s walking up to a big house, and a weird reception from people he’s never seen before ….

I wont give you any more details than that, although really, at this point those teaser images pretty much sum up what happens in the second half of the issue, with Cheverton doing his damnedest to make this something wonderfully complex, complicated, layered, and interesting, a story to keep us all guessing. And at the end of this issue, with a palpable disappointment at not having issue 2 in hand, I reckon Cheverton’s done it.

But the mystery is only half of this issue. The early part of it is all concerned with character, specifically the character of Diggory. And they get that over to us in a few neat little sequences; Diggory arguing with his girlfriend about leaving, Diggory chatting to his best mate about everything that’s going on:

There’s fine dialogue in here, especially in the scenes between Diggory and his best mate, an easy, free-flowing rhythm that feels natural, reads superbly well.

Fittingly for a comic that looks rather like earlier Paul Grist, there’s a fair amount of switching back and forth in the storyline, never telegraphed, never explained, always easy to follow, with writer and artist doing the work well.

All in all, this feels like it’s leading into something both fun and interestingly complicated, with Doherty’s easy on the eye style there to lessen some of the complexities to come. So far, it’s all working perfectly. End of part one and I had a great time, I’m full of questions, eager to read on. Perfect way for a first issue to leave a reader really.

The Whale House is available in a digital edition from Doherty’s online store here or print version from Cheverton here.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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