As the product of one man’s creative vision, “Lenore” by Roman Dirge is a remarkably consistent book. Every issue is filled with the same kind of dark, offbeat humor and routinely brilliant visuals while the slow, steady release schedule means there’s just enough time between issues for readers’ appetites to remain vital. In these ways and many others, it cannot be faulted.
“Lenore” #5 is the second half of a two-part story in which the titular cute little dead girl finds herself under attack from the Creepig, a blade-wielding apparition that takes the form of a floating, tentacled pig. On paper it sounds strange, maybe even actively dumb — but as a touchstone for Dirge’s idiosyncratic humor, it’s a strong joke that can be pulled in multiple directions. Even its existence is a joke, the result of a friend’s Facebook typo, taken to such ludicrous extremes that this is the second issue based on it. You simply can’t hate something that willfully senseless.
Dirge is hugely accomplished as an illustrator with a brilliant sense of comic timing and a keen eye for coloring. He somehow takes a set of unconventional and eccentric (often completely abstract) designs and turns each one into living — or perhaps unloving — characters. At the same time, he heaps sight gags on top of the dialogue-based jokes. It may have been a while since he drew anything else, but when he draws this comic so well it’s tough to complain.
Given the effusive praise heaped on the work, you might reasonably ask why this review doesn’t give it the full five stars — and really, it’s because the issue, as a package, doesn’t quite live up to the standards of the series overall. The story is great, the technical execution is great, even the paper it’s printed on is great. Only the lack of extras lets it down. Most issues of “Lenore” feature at least one shorter story or guest strips, but this issue has neither. There is a double-sided poster spread in the middle, but by Lenore’s usual standards, one story (however excellent) is below-par.
Even so, despite being in its 20th year (the series re-numbered when it switched publishers) “Lenore” is a comic whose standards have never slipped and it deserves recognition for that fact alone. If you like one issue, you’ll like them all and you’ll never be disappointed by the story direction because you’ll never have a chance to build up expectations about where it’s going. How many other comics can guarantee you that level of entertainment and unpredictability?