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Graham, Alex – The Devil’s Grin #1


The Devil’s Grin #1

What an absolute fucking journey this comic is. Oh hi, do you have no idea what you’re in for here? This is the first issue (out of four, at least as of early 2024) of this series, and the early issues are getting pretty rare, so if you’d like to get in on this ride, Domino Books still has copies available as of this writing. I went into this totally blind, and I think the only comic I’ve seen from Alex before this was Dog Biscuits (from Fantagraphics, it was incredible). This one starts in 1948 with a woman dining alone at an outdoor cafe. We see bits of her history and interests throughout this meal, along with an overheard conversation on top of her experiences. She heads home, has an embarrassing (to her) encounter with a bum on the street, and arrives home to a letter from her fiance breaking up with her. We also meet a couple of her neighbors and learn about her interest in becoming a great artist, so at this point I was pretty sure I had a sense of where the story was heading with a whole cast of characters coming together. I was completely wrong, because after a frenzied all night painting session, she ends up on the toilet with an early Chester Brown-esque page full of struggling. Readers of Ed the Happy Clown, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, she ends up giving birth to a tiny… baby? It’s talking right away, but let’s go with baby. She doesn’t want the shame of having to explain it and figures it would ruin her life, so she flushes it away. At this point the real story starts up, probably, unless it shifts back to the lady in the next issue. But the rest of this one is the adventure of that baby and yes, you can go ahead an assume it survives. There are the flying creatures of the sewers, a lactating rat, a cage, a desperate rescue attempt, and an accidental murder, but I’ve said too much. This book is gorgeous (it took a supreme act of will to not also include that amazing back cover as a sample image), the story is compelling and all kinds of weird, and I have absolutely no idea where he’s going with all this. So yes, I’m glad that I got the first two issues at the same time, and I’ll be getting the next two as soon as I can. $12