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Shame Book One: Conception

Shame Book One: Conception
(1 of 3)

Writer: Lovern Kindzierski
Painter: John Bolton
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: Renegade Arts Entertainment
Where to buy:
Renegade Arts Entertainment, your local comic shop and other fine comic retailers on the web!

Editor’s Note: Shame: Book One is a three parter. At the moment we do not know how many books there will be.

Publisher’s Comments:
A good woman, Virtue, is faced with just that dilemma when she finds that her child to be is the spawn of the demon, Slur – a devil which has heard her wish for a daughter and magicks a quickening of her womb.

Virtue gives birth to Shame and imprisons her in a magickal enclosure to protect the girl from her father, and the world from Shame.

Shame will go to any length to escape the prison to which she was born and bring her will to bear upon the World.

Hello Ghouls and Boils,

Tonight we present you with a strange and dark tale about Shame. I must admit, as I occasionally looked over my husband’s shoulder while he read and re-read this terrorific comic I was a bit green with envy. The artwork and lettering were breathtaking and I could tell instantly that this is a book I would very much like to collect. After reading his review it solidified my desire to hold this work of art in my hands. A little raven told me that it will be in stores on the 13th. I will be there to snatch this one up for sure, but I will let Henry tell you all about it. Enjoy, my fiends!

Abstrusely,
Sarah L. Covert

Shame is about a girl conceived by an unwitting deal between a kindly old dispenser of faerie magicks and a demonic entity called Slur. Shame: Book One tracks the eponymous character’s conception; confrontation with her demon father; and realization of her dark potential. Mother Virtue is an elderly healer who wields plants and herbs from her garden to heal others, especially children, whom she loves but has never had one of her own. This sweet woman who wishes for a daughter finds her idle wish heard by Slur and soon Mother Virtue begins to realize that she is pregnant. Slur tells her it is no use divining the fate of the child with her magicks as the child’s destiny is fixed and its name chosen… Shame.

For those who detest even mild plot spoilers, please skip over the next two paragraphs so that more of Shame’s story will be a surprise to you.

Slur hopes to hold dominion of the world through Shame, but Mother draws all of the forces of white magicks about her; dryads and nymphs from the forests are drawn to her cottage, which she suffuses with life itself and calls Cradle. When Shame is born, Cradle acts to bind her, while Mother Virtue abandons the child, lest Mother herself become the weakest link between Shame and Slur. As a child, Shame finds she can shape reality around her – her environs and her caretakers, the nymphs and dryads – with her sheer will.

Believing that she was unwanted, Shame seeks revenge on her mother and demands to meet her father. Shame’s growing darkness has corrupted Cradle from within, weakening it to where Slur could at last reach out to Shame. Six years after their meeting, Shame reigns over a now dark and twisted Cradle, attended by shadows that once were her dryad guardians. On Shame’s birthday, Slur’s gift is an incubus, a winged man with the aspect of a classical statue of Adonis-like male beauty. She dispatches him to “collect the seed of man” and so begins her spell to destroy the innocent Mother Virtue.

Shame’s creator, Lovern Kindzierski, is best known as a veteran comics colourist. Some of his earliest work was on the Marvel classic Tomb of Dracula, and he has worked on X-Men, Star Trek, and Dr. Who as well, garnering many nominations for best colourist in the industry. Kindzierski was chosen to bring a new look and approach to DC‘s burgeoning mature readers line (which became Vertigo), and worked on Hellblazer and Sandman cover designs with cover artist Dave McKean.

In 1991 he co-founded Digital Chameleon with Chris Chuckry, and in 1994 began making extensive use of Adobe Photoshop in his work. DC was the first studio to make the use of Photoshop widespread in comics. Kindzierski’s first exposure to writing was co-writing Keith Giffen‘s Lunatik, a reworking of Giffen’s old Defenders character (who ultimately morphed into DC’s Lobo ) for Marvel. Kindzierski has written Spider-Man, Wolverine and Tarzan, and his latest project is Necromantic, with Rafael Kayanan illustrating.

I have always been a fan of John Bolton‘s gorgeous artwork, which skirts the line between lush fantasy and photorealism. Bolton’s credits include Kull, Marada the She-Wolf, Books of Magic and X-Men Classic, among many others. Bolton was the subject of writer Neil Gaiman‘s film directorial debut, A Short Film About John Bolton (2003), where Gaiman profiles Bolton and interrogates an actor playing Bolton with the query “Where do Your Ideas Come From?”.

Todd Klein is a veteran letterer, logo designer, and writer, mostly for DC Comics. He lettered Sandman, and designed distinctive word balloons and fonts for all of the Sandman characters. For Vertigo, he enjoyed healthy runs on Shade the Changing Man, The Invisibles, and Fables; and lettered all of Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics Line. He has recently lettered DC’s Simon Dark, by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton.

Given the pedigree of the three creators involved it was perhaps inevitable that tonally this could easily slot into the Vertigo stable. Shame is, like Sandman was at times, a beautifully rendered fairy tale with a dark heart pounding at its core. Kindzierski comes across as more cynical in his storytelling than Gaiman – which is refreshing after some of the millenial Vertigo books. The cruelty which bursts the fairy tale idyll early on is deeply sad, with no punches pulled. On the third reading of Shame: Conception, I wept a bit for poor Mother Virtue. I foresee Shame being an alluring, yet thoroughly detestable character, but I’ve been wrong before.

I have to point out the obvious about this book: John Bolton’s paintings are phenomenal; he is certainly a master of 20th century illustration – and not just of comics. My brain registers his work alongside Howard Pyle or JW Waterhouse more than a Marvel superhero book. Using large panoramic panels and stunning full page illustrations, Bolton is given immense reign to tell the story visually with his flawless work. Not just a purveyor of ethereal beauty, Bolton is just as facile tackling fighteningly jagged abstractions of Slur and his demons. Kindzierski’s inverted fairy tale complements and is not overwhelmed by Bolton. By keeping the script sharp, tight and lean, Kindzierski’s story works better than were it overly florid, and produces a wonderful synthesis of each man’s strengths – and isn’t that the goal of great comics?

Final Thoughts:
I have no clue where this is headed based solely on this debut issue. But I’ll happily continue the journey with creators of this caliber leading me along. Shame strikes me as an iconic “bad girl” in the making who, I’m sure, will likely endure well beyond the three-part Conception. Personally, I hope the sour karma she reaps catches up to her well before that.

But, live or die or in between, Shame as a character is a force to be reckoned with, and her eponymous graphic novel is as well. I give it 4.5 out of 5 tentacles.

Henry Covert – Minion (Reviewer/Columnist)

Comment Pages

There are 2 Comments to "Shame Book One: Conception"

  • alistairrobb alistairrobb says:

    You forget that John was also the artist for the Father Sandor stories in the Hammer House of Horror Magzine :) I really want to read this!

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