Review: Black River

Keeping on the subject of post-apocalyptic comics (see my previous post), Black River, Josh Simmons’ first foray in the graphic novel medium, is a captivating piece of work. 

It is funny, shocking, tragic, surreal and lots more besides. 

We have a group of women, one man and two dogs who are making their way through a post-apocalyptic world in search of a city called Gattenburg that supposedly still has electricity and civilisation. There are no visible leaders in the group, but a character called Seka seems to be the main one, and Daisy, who like Hodor from Game of Thrones, has only one word she utters – “dickpussy!”

Their journey is fraught with odd encounters, key ones being a detour at a comedy club and an encounter with a gang of rapists and sadists (not to mention the highs and lows of gum drops, ie, drugs). It may have the same formula as most post-apocalyptic comics and shows, but Simmons intersperses the drama with some surreal moments, namely an encounter at the bottom of a frozen lake and the ending (I welcome your thoughts on what you may think this signifies). 

Josh Simmons’ artwork definitely pulls no punches, there is plenty of gore and graphic sex – all in glorious black and white artwork. 

Simmons does not shy away from the sex and violence

His distinctive style is a joy to observe, and I found more pleasure after reading it a second time. There are words and images that have seared themselves on my brain, it is one of those books that stays with you long after you have finished reading it.

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