Written by Michael Fleizach and Todd Hunt
Dave Mims art and color
Zack Turner letters

darling (lower case intentional) begins on a sad note. Namely, this comic came to be on the inspiration of the author Michael Fleizach's dead brother, who passed away from a heroin overdose in 2012.

There's a bit of redemption in Michael's story, coming from a character mirroring his late brother. His brother left him a series of journals. In them were his accounts, his days, his thoughts. It's where he finds his brother time and time again, living on in the pages.

New York's Mayor Koch era...

darling starts out in New York 1981, the horrific Koch era and the height of drug addiction and decay throughout the five boroughs. This comic centers around the day to day of Francis, a junkie. He bumps into a friend with big dreams of leaving the city. In reality, Francis needs to score, and to do that he needs to pawn some stuff. His sister's apartment is ripe for the plundering.

This is true to life. I've known some people with a 'habit.' They will steal something and not think of it as theft; necessary borrowing at worst. Francis says to himself that the stuff he's taking out of his sister's place will be replaced by better things.

... but is it real?

darling pursues a surreal scribbly style suitable for a journey by an addict. The thing about Francis' experiences is that there's a lot of familiarity to the routine of the lifestyle. The unusual parts are in the characters he meets: a mad film maker, and his mute assistant Finch, a gong-ringing Queens Ruby, patterned after Lewis Carol's Queen of Hearts no doubt (she even says 'off with his head'). Plus some homicidal knife wielding children.

Woven in through the story line is a missing girl.

darling doesn't make any pretense at following these leads. This is Francis' story, and he's a junkie after all. Expect to see a lot of wandering and observing. In a sense, this comic is Michael Fleizach's story about chaos, and dis-connectedness. One can see that tone struck with every panel and word balloon. You're not going to be following any characters trying to achieve any goals in this comic.

It's not the story, it's the tone...

In a way, by sticking to this intentional un-connected style I get to understand the real story Michaels trying to tell here. In a heroin user's world, your attachment to your surroundings is tentative at best, you're a perpetual observer of other people's actions and reactions. darling accomplishes this message quite clearly.

(note: a portion of the profits from the sale of this comic will go towards helping drug addicts recover. You can buy this comic HERE.)

Next Tuesday:

A local artist (Santa Cruz area) -or at least he used to be...
Truth & Consequence
by Nathan Hanley

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