Sunday, August 16, 2009

So Mote It Be

Gary Spencer Millidge Strangehaven: Conspiracies

This is the third collection of Millidge's Strangehaven comic. There is a helpful summary of previous events at the start for those of us just climbing aboard. This schoolteacher bloke from Essex has found himself in this strange rural village out in the west of England. Broadly speaking, the setting is like Twin Peaks meets the Archers. The locals seem to be a mix of fairly run of the mill country folk, but interspersed among them are such unusual types as an Amazonian shaman, an old lady whose cats and dogs talk to her, a bloke who claims to be from outer space, and loads of Freemasons.

The previous two books felt like they were setting up things, but this one really gets going plotwise. The local police sergeant, hitherto a rather suspicious and to me unsavoury character, finds himself confronted with a bizarre murder mystery – a man found hanging from a tree outside the village, the victim in full Masonic garb. Coincidentally (or not), the victim was expelled from the Masons on the night of his death, and his wife also turns out to have been separately murdered in their house. And the woman he is having an affair with turns out to be missing as well. All very mysterious, but the cop does at least have a talking teddy bear to help him out.

Strangehaven is an odd book. It lurches gamely from telling quotidian domestic stories to throwing the reader into a world of total weirdness. It is always an open question as to whether Millidge knows where he is going, but the books are so readable that if you pick one up you will bomb through it and then scramble around looking for more, even if you are not that convinced by it. One thing that is a shame is that the story is as yet unfinished, and Millidge is self-publishing it at such a glacial pace that we will probably all have died of old age before the title reaches its conclusion.

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