Page 45 Review by Stephen
The second I laid eyes on that cover it screamed "Gilbert Hernandez!"
Understandably startled, I dropped it in fright, so thank goodness we currently have carpeted floor.
Richard Sala's old website had an equally alarming introduction involving a trap door, and there's something of the Sala inside this: creepy but comical and slightly old fashioned ("of an era" sounds better) although not when it comes to sex.
Sala's Scooby-Doo sensibilities become particularly prominent when Clover click-clacks down the corridor in a black cloak and high-heeled boots, seeking to make her escape, and in surroundings which later prove alien to our protagonist. These have to be negotiated with caution for fear of what lurks round the corner, through that closed door, or down the bordered-up hole in the wall. Needs must, I suppose, but I probably wouldn't have ventured there myself.
Gilbert's brother Jaime Hernandez is on hand on the back and I doubt anyone could summarise this book better:
"I'm thirteen years old, up late watching an early '70s 'adult' horror movie on TV, waiting for the racy parts. The dumb thing doesn't deliver. Forty-four years later, Katie Skelly delivers with flying colours."
She does - also with vibrant colours, and exactly that early '70s fashion sense, seediness and gloss.
Someone described it as sex-positive, and I like that; I'll use it myself. See also Jade Sarson's FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MARIE and Jess Fink's CHESTER 5000 XYZ etc.
Not so dainty nor sex-positive is Clover's brother, Marcel. A control freak verging on the abusive, he holds her captive in a remote countryside mansion, perving through peep holes as his sister swims naked in their white-statue-lined Roman-eque baths.
"No one else will take care of you...
"It's just us."
Actually there is housekeeper of eastern origin called Elsa who smuggles in cigarettes (and a book of matches) which our fanged fatale then smokes in a corner, surrounded by teddy bears while planning her daring escape.
Constantly leaking blood as black as bitumen, Clover must evade John, an ex-police Private Eye who's rarely more than a few tell-tale footsteps behind, constantly puffing away on one cigarette after another. Moustache, eye patch, and butterscotch raincoat: we are still in the seventies. Then there are those parties where the best dressed prove most libidinous.
From the creator of OPERATION MARGARINE (which we will attempt to restock once again shortly via John Porcellino's Spit and a Half) comes something sensual, suggestive, enigmatic and cursed. There is a cult.
Five years earlier:
"Most people that come to us want money, power... eternal life for themselves.
"You did it for love.
"The one you love will never die.