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The Tale Of Brin & Bent And Minno Marylebone h/c

The Tale Of Brin & Bent And Minno Marylebone h/c back

Ravi Thornton & Andy Hixon


Page 45 Review by Stephen

This is one book you can judge from its cover: the interior art is rendered in exactly the same computer-generated way, and the work as a whole is creepy as fuck. Seriously, it is a very long time since a graphic novel disturbed me – worried me – as much as this.

Populated by grotesques – including the hair-shaved inmates of the old people’s home, the two titular psychopaths and girl who wanders into their sights – it is eerie and empty and as clinically clean as the indoor swimming pool which Brin and Bent bleach to oblivion then pump full of chlorine, burning the skins of those in their care. I can virtually smell the ammonia from here, and as the infirm reach out imploringly from their chemical bath you cannot help but think of Auschwitz. As for the scenes where the couple feast on each other’s lust, so much here is sexually implicit through the positioning of hands and teeth and the posture of the bodies without once showing genitalia. I rather think Jonathan Cape would have balked at that! Nonetheless, it’s like being trapped in a torture chamber custom-designed for the Marquis de Sade. Fans of Dave McKean’s PARTICLE TAROR – MINOR ARACANA will love it.

It is also quite mesmerising, thanks to Ravi Thornton’s sparse, dark poetry, also implying much more than is said. I should emphasise that this isn’t illustrated poetry, however; the lines are fully incorporated into the flow of sequential art.

“Disordered, destructive, sexually shambolic.
Apart they are extreme.
She is rattled.
He is loose.
They have tendencies they can neither deny nor nurture.
They are bewildered. Insular with their dreadful desires.”

They are also entirely silent. They communicate with looks and body language and pheromones alone, cooking up cruelty to satisfy their sadism. So what will become of young Minno Marylebone, the innocent angel who slips in at night, transforming the corrosive waters of the pool into a vast, celestial sea?

“Minno Marylebone comes through the back door.
Minno Marylebone does not see Brin and Bent.
Brin and Bent see Minno Marylebone.
They see a boy, a girl, a child androgyne.
They see their collective satisfaction.”

That Ravi alludes to an instance in her own life when “something bad happened to me” right at the front might have coloured the work as a whole but, as she emphasises, “It’s a psychological tale, metaphorical in every sense”. Still, it’s impossible not to wonder.

Here’s the soundtrack, by the way, which kicks off as creepily as you’d expect, but becomes something quite unexpected, just like the graphic novel itself.