Thursday, 29 January 2015

What makes Death Sentence unique?

Art by Martin Simmonds, from Death Sentence #1 out later this year

Death Sentence is a comic unlike any other. This is a list of some of the essential components of the Death Sentence experience, in no particular order.

1) Death Sentence characters are normal people, with normal aspirations: Verity wants to be an artist and get back with the love of her life - Weasel wants to be a musician and earn the respect of his peers. Heroism and power isn't the point of their existence, which makes their story more relatable to everyday life. That differs from someone like Batman, who exists to fight crime, or Superman, who exists to protect the world.

2) Death Sentence characters are going to die really soon. The G-plus virus will kill them in six months. This changes their behavior, and drives their decisions. If you knew today was your last day you'd probably change your plans and adjust your priorities to embrace the most important things in your life. So it is with Death Sentence. 

3) Death Sentence characters don't pose, stick their chest out or strut around exuding great power and responsibility.  Why would they? They're ordinary people like you or I - albeit in an extraordinary predicament. They might look fed up, disheveled, embarrassed - or happy, sexy, and hopeful - but they always look and behave like a real person would.

4) Death Sentence characters wear everyday clothes. Things you could get in the high street, if you hunt around a bit. They have tattoos, the way people do. They look interesting and unique but they don't look like fantasy characters - or stylistic overhangs from a previous century.

5) Death Sentence is funny, raucous, rude and imaginative. It's like an hour in the pub with the most entertaining person you know, after knocking back a few shots. 

6) Death Sentence is adult. Think about the adults you know. They may well be clever, dumb, curious, vulgar, highbrow, sexy, funny, childish or serious - depending on what's happening. They might make you laugh or make you think - or switch their attention from global issues to the ridiculous minutia of everyday life. That's Death Sentence.

7) Death Sentence isn't aspirational. It doesn't portray an idealised society, or embody the best of us. It embodies the reality of us. It shines a Dickensian mirror up to 21st century society. Each issue takes whatever's happening in the world right now and distills it into 22 pages of explosive drama - with a thought provoking subtext to delve into if you want.

8) Death Sentence isn't interested in respectability. It doesn't need mainstream hugs. It's pulp entertainment - a visceral thrill from start to finish.

 9) Death Sentence has an original tone: freewheeling, dark, lyrical, funny, chaotic. It's not cynical either. It's hard to describe. You really have to read it.

10) Death Sentence is a comic pure and simple. That might sound obvious, but let me tell you - a lot of comics on the shelves are actually TV/movie pitches in disguise. Whereas Death Sentence exists to celebrate the sequential medium, and explore the storytelling techniques only comics can provide.

This is by no means a definitive list, but altogether it makes for unique experience. I'll no doubt add and amend it as things occur to me.

You can get the Death Sentence hardcover from any book or comic shop, or online retailer, globally.

More about Death Sentence here and here. The new series is out later this year.