Review: Bog Bodies

Review By David Ferguson

  • Art by Gavin Fullerton
  • Written by Declan Shalvey
  • Colours by Rebecca Nalty
  • Letters by Clayton Cowles
  • Cover and design by Declan Shalvey

With Bog Bodies, Declan Shalvey makes a return to crime fiction, his previous outing being Savage Town. This time he is joined on art by Gavin Fullerton and Rebecca Nalty. Gavin’s art first came to my attention last year with his first graphic novel Bags [Or A Story Thereof], a wonderfully weird story that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was interested to see how he would tackle a purely real world setting. From page one, a beautifully depicted shot of the iconic Poolbeg Chimneys, I was wowed by the setting of the story. The various glimpses we get of Dublin’s streets and the landscape of the Dublin mountains do so much to set the stage for the story. Living in Dublin and having trekked through the Dublin mountains (my secondary school’s version of a day trip), I was awed at the mixture of accuracy and style. The colours of Rebecca Nalty go hand in hand with this. The aforementioned opening page being a brilliant example as Rebecca’s colours create a beautiful sunset. (Rebecca has so many credits to her name but suffice to say: check out her work).

The opening page, to me, seems to be a metaphor as the beginning of the story takes us on our first step into a dark tale that follows. I don’t really want to go too much into the story details as I never want to spoil a potential reader’s enjoyment so I will stick to what is revealed on the back cover. The opening dialogue from the newsreader sets up the story of one of the characters, Neave, a missing girl (I love that she works in Penney’s!), and we soon meet the other central character Killian, who works for a local gangster and ends up on the run after he messes up a job. He encounters Neave, who is lost in the mountains, and they end up on the run for their lives. I’ll leave it there. What differentiates this story from the Declan’s previous book, Savage Town, is the tone and the setting. There is still the great character work but the characters feel more vicious and there is a world weariness to some of them that adds to the overall tone. The night-time setting creates a bleak landscape and along with the history of the Dublin mountains, as a burial grounds for unspeakable murders throughout history, leads the reader to fear the worst. With Gavin’s skill with shadows and Rebecca’s subtle colours, it all combines to give the feel of an old Irish ghost story. There is something very Irish about the whole thing. Highly recommended.

Bog Bodies is available in all comic shops and book stores. ICN recommends that you support your local stores.