REVIEW: LIVING WITH DEATH ISSUE ONE

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Review By David Ferguson

Written by Glenn Matchett
Art by Alan Anguiano

This book follows the investigation of a murder at Oxford in the 1980s. The roommate of the girlfriend of the victim, Jenna Wakefield, finds herself being quizzed by fellow student and amateur detective Stephanie Hawkins. Hawkins is a genius but she is bad with people.

Being a bit of a follower of many a detective series (mainly TV shows and the odd Agatha Christie novel), I was interested in how one would play out in comic book form. For me, a detective story is a character study and the murder is a way of bringing the real personalities of the players to the surface. This issue was all about learning who the people are. The main character is Jenna Wakefield. She has been dragged into the story due to her relationship with the roommate of the murder victim. As the narrator, and someone who is seemingly a regular person just like us, she is our window into the world. The other major character in this issue, Stephanie Hawkins is the sort of strange kind of detective that I like. She has the brain power to resolve the murder but her inability to deal with people may prevent her from getting the evidence to do so. This handicap may also hinder her from seeing the bigger picture that a person like Jenna might.

The art style really works for the story that is being told. The story does not contain much in the way of action so I think it would be a bit of a challenge for any artist to keep it looking interesting. Alan Anguiano does a great job with the characterisation. A good detective story is about spotting the little plot element or facial expression that gives a character away and the faces of Jenna and Stephanie help tell the story and show something of what is going on in their heads. I also enjoyed the designs of the characters. Each has their own fashion sense which adds a layer to their personalities. There were some design elements I enjoyed. In particular was page 7, which showed once of the character recalling a plot point and the panels were positioned in a large illustration of the character’s head (you can see this page in the preview here). If I had thing to say to improve the art, it would be more of that to break up the traditional panel layouts which are a necessary element of this kind of story.

I liked this book. It is a good detective story but it is something different too. The art really compliments the storytelling and I am interested in what happens next.

Living With Death is available to buy on the Grayhaven Comics website.