Creature Tech
by Doug TenNapel
(Top Shelf, 2002)

Reanimated by the burial shroud of Christ, a madman attempts a plan begun 150 years ago, ravaging Earth with gigantic eels from outer space. Ying to his yang, Dr. Ong is an apostate preacher and scientist employed at Creature Tech, a clandestine research facility. With an oddball assortment of symbiotic monsters, rednecks and a giant praying mantis, Ong plays out an exciting adventure of faith and self-revelation as Earth "hangs in the balance." So reads the interior cover-flap of an astonishing new graphic novel, Creature Tech by Doug TenNapel.

But this graphic novel is much more than plot.

No plot twist or character offered is wildly original, but Tech is a wonderful amalgam of influences melded into a singular, original and entertaining style. For example, the creature that attaches itself to Ong is similar to the monster that attaches itself to faces in the movie Alien. The relationship in Tech, however, is much more complicated.

Better still, Ong and cast are quirky, fully developed people who act and speak naturally in an unnatural world. Fully developed includes that rarest of human aspects in comics, God. Those potential readers who choose to not buy Tech because of religion will only cheat themselves.

Better still again, the simple, minimalist art sifts Will Eisner and Alex Toth and a handful of European styles into a flour that is wholly TenNapel. Using thick, bold lines and large areas of white and black to heighten contrast, Creature Tech looks like an episode of The Spirit costarring Bugs Bunny.

Comics don't get much better than this, and the only disappointment (perish the thought) is the possibility there might not be a second volume. Creature Tech is very highly re-commended for all but young children.

- Rambles
written by Michael Vance
published 8 February 2003

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