Comic Review: ‘Cancertown’ Volume 1 & 2

Cancertown Vol. 1 & 2
Written by Cy Dethan
Art by Stephen Downey
Colors by Melanie Cook
Release Date: November, 2012
Cover Price: $19.99

The trouble with a lot of the comics I review is that they just try too damn hard. From hack dialogue to characters that are more caricatures than actual heroes or villains, some comics just scream inauthenticity. It’s not that there is no place for over the top dialogue or characters *cough The Big Two cough* it’s just that for most indie comics, subtle is better. Cancertown by Cy Dethan is anything but subtle. Part Silent Hill part 100 Bullets, this is a comic that samples from every classic genre and, for the most part, comes out on top.

Cancertown starts in a frenzy and pretty much keeps that pace up through its entirety. Even now, if you were to ask me to sum up this book in a sentence I’d have a hell of a time trying to figure it out. But, since it’s my job to sum things up in sentences, here goes. Cancertown follows Vince Morley as he traverses the darkest depth of madness, his own sickness, and the dark-world known as Cancertown.

To accurately evaluate this book we first have to take a look at the comic’s protagonist, Vince. Vince Morley is Cancertown and in many ways Cancertown is Vince Morley. They both are brutal, violent, on the verge of collapse and shrouded in mystery. With dialogue that reads like taking a broken bottle to the jugular, Morley’s one-liners are the best part of this book. Typically, I think one-liners, if not done correctly, can completely derail a comic. However, Dethan writes like he’s channeling his inner Jason Statham on every page, which if you didn’t know is a good thing, in a very cheesy way.

Art credits go to Stephen Downey, who keeps the artistic pace of this book consistent throughout. Cancertown is a huge multidimensional book. By “multidimensional” I don’t mean it has many dimensions, I literally mean that it takes place in multiple realms. With that being said, the art in Cancertown felt small and intimate when it probably should have been sprawling. If I wanted to feel like Cancertown was more than just a place in Morley’s head, I should see backgrounds and splash pages that reflect the sheer enormity of this nightmare world.

Cancertown is trying hard and not the type of trying hard that Olympic athletes and steel workers do. It’s more like the type that rock stars and middle-aged bachelors work at “” they want you to think they’re cool, they want to be edgy. While this would usually cause me to recommend a comic be recycled immediately, Cancertown pulls it off and, surprisingly, looks badass in the process.

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