Comic Review: Lower Regions
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Lower Regions
Written and Drawn by Alex Robinson
Top Shelf Productions
Cover price: $6.95; Available now

The inner geek in me is always entertained by a good old-fashioned sword and sorcery tale, and this little book here really scratched that itch. And when I say little, I mean that literally, as the physical dimension of this book really sets it apart from any other comic you’ll normally see. The book is basically the size of a postcard, 56 pages long, and mostly wordless. You won’t read a book quite like it this year. It makes for a nice change from creator Alex Robinson‘s regular work, which is usually based in reality and is much longer.

The plot of the book is very simple. There’s a female warrior and her elf friend, and they do your standard Dungeons and Dragons dungeon crawl, fighting a bunch of weird and grotesque creatures. And then they reach their goal. That’s pretty much it. The story is less important than the way in which the story is told. The lack of any dialogue really enhances the way you read the story, as it goes by very quickly, but that just means the action really moves along at a quick pace and leaves the reader constantly excited.

Robinson uses his standard style here, which is very rounded and cartoony. It works well, as the story has several light and humorous moments, as well as some fairly scary and brutal moments. The storytelling is clear and easy to read, which is very important because of the speed at which the reader will go through this. Any disruptions in the flow of the story would cause the reader to slow down, which would kill the momentum. Robinson knows when to break the page into smaller chunks and when to give the panels some space.

The thing about this book though, is that you can tell this is largely a creative exercise for the creator. It’s fun to read but is kind of inconsequential. It’s a nice pallet cleanser between heavier courses of reading, but not really a full course by itself. The price tag also kind of keeps me from wholeheartedly endorsing this. Seven bucks for a book that is quicker to read than a lot of 22-page stories feels like kind of a rip. I understand though that Top Shelf is a smaller publisher and needs to have higher prices in order to make any money, but still, the price issue is there.

Really though, if you’re a fan of Alex Robinson’s work, and I’ll admit that I am, this is worth picking up, at the very least as a way to build anticipation for his next long work. Reading this was enough to convince me to re-read Box Office Poison, which is reason enough to pick this up. It may be hard to find in stores, but is available through at the Top Shelf online store.

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