A review a day: <i>The Rockpool Files</i>

Yes, it's the adventures of Mr. Crusht Acean!

The Rockpool Files is a slim volume by Glenn Dakin (writer) and Phil Eilliott (artist). It's published by SLG and costs a mere $6.95.

Dakin and Elliott give us Mr. Crusht Acean, an investigator for the Cancer Detective Agency. He, along with Mr. C. Urchin, solve all sorts of bizarre crimes. The odd thing about them is they're very bad at investigating, and Acean often wants to quit whatever job he's on. Somehow they stumble through, though, and get to the bottom of things. That's just how they roll. So we get a murder that might not be a murder, a case in which Acean takes gravity to court, the mystery of the frozen astronauts, why nothing in the world is dying, and what's going on with the skull of Nostradamus. Each story is pretty brief, but Dakin packs each page with a ton of stuff, and Elliott is up to the task of drawing it all. Acean goes into deep space and around the world, and the mysteries get stranger and stranger.

I don't love the comic, however, and your enjoyment of it will depend on how much you're willing to dive into Dakin's surreal world. I certainly don't want explanations for everything, but it feels occasionally that Dakin is trying too hard to be weird. It's hard to quantify why I don't love it, because it's done pretty well.

Dakin drops plenty of odd dialogue into the book that makes me smile, from Acean's gloominess when he's called to a case to Urchin's cluelessness about pretty much everything. I don't love Elliott's art, but he does have a goofy sensibility that works with the off-the-wall proceedings in the book. He's very good with all the strange characters that Dakin chucks into the book, and his storytelling is clear, which is good in a book this odd. But something is missing for me from the comic. It's very much a trifle, I suppose, and almost instantly forgettable. It's charming but unimportant. It's not surreal enough to be a true dada classic, while it's not funny enough to be a comedy classic. Dakin goes out to the boundaries of weirdness but never quite goes too far. Despite the fact that the main character is a crab who, to escape one trap, simply molts his old skin, it feels like Dakin wants to be more conventional than he could be. But his in-betweenness doesn't work, and leaves us wishing either for more strangeness or less. Too bad.

The Rockpool Files is, however, seven bucks for 59 pages, which are packed with content. It's not a bad deal if you're in the mood for some goofy detective tales. I just wish Dakin had gone for broke in one way or another.

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