Loosely Based: Arcana’s Take On The Monkey’s Paw

Loosely Based Graphic Novel (Arcana – Jajic / Czernaiwski / Hersey / Lagaspe)

Duncan Moreno has finally found the success he’s been craving when his newest novel becomes an ultra popular, best seller. But sometimes success comes with a price, and soon enough his life descends into chaos as his fictional characters begin coming to life and demanding that he write them into future works. Duncan’s world becomes a downward spiral filled with vengeful antagonists, needy protagonists, a mysterious muse, and some good old fashioned murder.

Duncan’s relationship with a muse has transformed him from a struggling writer to the best selling author of the “Casanova Killer”. Unfortunately it came with a price. When Duncan’s main characters come to life and confront him, all his success and fame won’t mean a thing, and Duncan’s world will be forever changed. His popular serial killing antagonist ”Trevor”demands to be written into future works, while Duncan’s good hearted protagonist ”Frank” yearns for a father figure that he obviously sees his creator as. Murder, blackmail, and missing loved ones, all become the norm for poor Duncan, and he finally has to stand up to the monster he’s created.

The description blurb (above) from Arcana does a great job of giving you the nitty-gritty of this story.   Duncan, an author who wants to solidify his place in the great American lexicon, makes a deal with a “Muse” (a pretty seductive vapor-like demon) who gives him both fame and a hit series… meanwhile the flip-side of the gift is that his creations come to life.  And unfortunately for him, he is writing about a creative and sadistic killer.

While the book is broken into four distinct “issues”, I read the whole story in one sitting and would suggest you do the same.  I saw it as more of a movie with four acts rather than four separate issues. This dark Faustian yarn flows pretty easily and as we follow Duncan’s building regret and horror the story is projected forward.  Writers Nikola Jajic and Michael Czernaiwski present a well-constructed “deal with the devil” plot line that is complete with loves lost, gruesome murders, dreams shattered and the final realization that “dreams come true at any cost” might not be the best goal.  Even in their own notes, the authors point out that this is a theme that has been told many times before, but they do an outstanding job of interpreting it into a relevant modern day setting.  Rick Hershey’s art while good, took a little bit to get used to.  He has a combination of penciling that sways more on the “realistic” style of comic art and fairly heavy inks.  While this gave fairly dark frames, I think it actually enhanced and help manifest the bottle-up trapped anxiety that Duncan felt in the story.

Loosely Based is a solid graphic novel that I could see easily being used in high school English classes.

Grade: B+

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Updated: May 7, 2010 — 10:09 am

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