The depths of despair
Release Date: 2 May
Publisher: Fantagraphics Writer/ artist: Josh Simmons
An end- of - the- world tale for those who thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was a bit too light and cheery, this new graphic novel from writer/ artist Josh Simmons is not for the timid or the weak of stomach. An extremely adult and uncompromisingly bleak story, Black River takes us on a journey into a post- apocalyptic nightmare.
Following a succession of natural disasters that have devastated the planet, a small group of travellers are foraging for supplies across the wastes of America. One of them has heard rumours of a city that supposedly still has power and some semblance of normality, but their attempt to reach it soon pulls them into a continuing cycle of abuse and horrific violence.
Rendered in a rough, jagged art style that captures a desolate world but still finds moments of weird beauty, Black River is a difficult read, but worthy of investigation for fans of the more literary end of the market. Simmons’s approach is powerful but it’s also unrelentingly grim.
From a visit to a dilapidated bar to a run- in with a gang of rapists, the story features the usual tropes of apocalypse fiction but concentrates almost exclusively on the darkest and most brutal material. It’s an explicit and challenging work, but the extreme violence and general atmosphere of grotesque savagery mean it’s ultimately easier to admire Black River than to like it. Saxon Bullock
But there are no queues at the shops any more.