Review: Dust - Withered Earth

I started to read Dust a few months back when I was doing some basic research on KeyLeaf comic’s primary content creators. I don’t think actually finished reading this particular series and abandoned it in favour of Drace Grey and Mythoi (after of issue 4).

Premise: The story takes place in a post apocalyptic future, where food and women are scarce. The setting has a very western cowboy feel both in tone and in storytelling.

Art: The art is absolutely terrible. There, I said it. Now we can get on with everything else that was actually good about the graphic novel. That being said, I do love heavily inked artwork with strong emphasis on shadow play.

Colour: I really liked how they applied watercolour washes to the panels to symbolize the passing of time (night/day) and I get a whiff of emotional ties, but it’s hard to put my finger on what exactly the colour usage in a particular scenes were meant to make me feel.  Maybe I’m just reading into nothing.

Story:  The story is simple enough; Deborah is rescued by Jim who is then commissioned to take her to a secret lab across the country where they are attempting to bring back food.  There are plenty of poorly drawn gun fights where it’s painfully confusing to tell who shot who, but you know something went down. And it seems to me that someone is attempting to rape or solicit sex from Deborah every 25 pages or so. In fact, in one twenty-five page bulk there was this mother and child, and the baddy says “I ain’t seen no pussy in a good long time.” I’m thinking “WHAT?! ARE YOU BLIND!”

Maybe I’m just a smidge touchy these days about how women are sexualized in various formats.  It seems like all they’re good for is sex appeal and being raped. Ninness is capable of so much better.

Characters: I think Jim is supposed to be a native American, but it’s hard to tell since he has the personality of a rock, but you do get glimpses that there’s something more to him over the course of the story. By the end of it, I really liked Jim.

Deborah was just useless and seemed like she was just there for tits and ass. Granted she too develops over the course of the story. In the beginning when raped is hinted (rather obviously), she’s a self respecting kind of individual, albeit pathetic, who later makes a full transition to offering her body for a full 20 minutes in order to ‘avoid trouble’. Why? Because Jim accused her of being frugal with her nether regions and she decided to take THAT to heart. “Oh I’m taking charge because I’m  ‘choosing’ to use sex as currency instead of just being raped.” Yeah, that’s so much better Deborah...

Okay, as I’m typing this I’m just losing even more respect for this character.

Buddy and his pet dog were my favourite characters and neither one of them actually had dialogue. I loved the way Ninness wrote this character in, and in many ways Buddy was far more believable than the rest of the crew.

Writing: I’ve read most of James’ work and I know he can do so much better; I mean I’ve read it. All in all, it has many of the traditional western cowboy flick elements; kudos to him for having done his homework. The story itself really isn’t that bad, if you can get past the annoying character flaws.

This graphic novel is for an adult audience, had nudity, fowl language, blood, gore, and well...violence to go with the blood and gore.

Is it worth reading? I’d get it as an example of what not to do with characters and art. I’d probably even use it as a guideline to do something better than...Even then, it apparently did very well in sales. Perhaps it can serve as a source of inspiration that if stuff like this can be published, one day your work can be published too.

Details: DUST: Withered Earth
Written by JAMES NINNESS
Art by JOHN NARCOMEY
Print, 172 pgs, FC, $19.99 US – RATED 18+

Dust can be found at: jamesninness.com

Evil Ink ranking:

I’d get it as an example of what not to do with characters and art. I’d probably even use it as a guideline to do something better than...

Amber Dalcourt

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