Dead, She Said

Dead. She SaidSummary: Detective Coogan knows well that there are some pretty shady freaks out there in the big city… but he doesn’t know that some of those freaks aren’t human! He learns it the hard way, and ends up on the wrong side of a bullet in this new series that mixes horror and noir into a tightly wound nightmare of twists and turns. An all-new story by comic book legends Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson.

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Dead, She Said, by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson 7.75

‘Dead, She Said’ is the first of -so far- three collaborations between Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson. It was collected along with the other two in a huge tome called ‘The Monstrous Collection‘. When I got my hands on that collection I had no idea that they were reprints of the original books. As soon as I found out, I immediately requested the only one that my library had, just to compare.

You see, one thing I’ve discovered through the years is that collections often alter the original works to suit the new format. And when the original is a work of art, I much prefer to see it untouched.

As it turns out, I did the right thing. I couldn’t have known this, but the art in ‘The Monstrous Collection’ was stripped of all its colour to highlight Wrightson’s work on the project. However, when it was first published it was in full colour.

What’s fascinating is just how much Wrightson’s artwork is enhanced by the colouring. In fact, looking at it, one realizes that he had always intended for it to be coloured, not black and white. It turns out that the black and white version in ‘The Monstrous Collection’ was actually an aberration. Had Wrightson intended his art to be seen that way, he would have detailed and inked each page very differently.

The proof is in the pudding: when one looks at the bonus art at the end of each book, you can see just how much goes into each of his pages. And to think I thought he was cutting corners here…

For that reason alone, I have lost much admiration for ‘The Monstrous Collection’. By not advising their readers, IDW failed their readers and possibly tarnished Wrightson’s name. Because, honestly, he’s far better than the uncoloured pages would suggest.

IDW made the same mistake with the bonus material. Not only did they reprint the same material in both books, but they failed to contextualize it in ‘The Monstrous Collection’, as they did here. This left the reader unaware that some of the art was actually intended for a colouring book and, thus, was purposely thin on detail.

Knowing this now, I appreciate Wrightson’s skill even more now. After all, it takes no small amount of genius to be able to shadow and ink a drawing one way when it’s black and white and another way when colours are supposed to the job for you. And to leave out detail so that readers can colour it in themselves? Brilliant!

The thing is, I always thought highly of Wrightson and I was somewhat disappointed with what I saw in the collection. Now I see that my initial impression was not unfounded. He is a multifaceted genius.

But that’s not all. This book also tacks on an additional b&w story at the end, a Hitchcockian tale of a senior who kills and buries his wife to finally get some peace and quiet – but whose conscience won’t nags him almost equally. It wasn’t an amazing piece, but ‘Ain’t She Sweet?’ did recall one of my all-time favourite ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ episodes, “Back for Christmas”. And that was a lot of fun. It was the cherry on the sundae.

So, bottom line, I would highly recommend getting the ‘Dead, She Said’ collection over ‘The Monstrous Collection’. The story is fine, a bit creepy and tongue-in-cheek, and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

Any fan of Bernie Wrightson would be remiss to pass it by.

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