Friday, May 1, 2009


Wendy Pini's Masque Of The Red Death Volume 1MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, Volume 1
Wendy Pini
Go! Cmi
graphic novel: $19.99

This graphic novel is the first in a series (very) loosely based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe. While not about vampires per se, it does concern a quest to achieve immortality--so I am going to consider it "close enough". The creator, Wendy Pini, is most famous for her work on Elfquest.

This graphic is a hybrid comic/manga with strong yaoi (gay erotic) themes. Some commenters have been a little shocked by that--unused to comics with adult material. However these kinds of themes are entirely welcome to me as a fan of similar work by the likes of Donna Barr and Coleen Doran.

The main characters are the reclusive Anton Prosper who embarks upon a secret scientific project, and the gorgeous Steffan Kabala, soon of a preeminent geneticist and a scientist in his own right. Both characters are rendered as a cross between an Olympic swimmer and an anorexic model. The general styling of the world and people seems exotic but haphazard.

However in this case I was disappointed. The plot is slow moving, the art work suffers from a lack of distinct line work and is weighed down by amateurish digital techniques like filters and gradients. While this is obviously a work of love Pini has spent a lot of time on it simultaneously seems thin and poorly worked out.

For example, Prosper effectively tortures himself in penance for using a single lab rat (at least I think it was a rat) yet provides his pet black panther with flocks of goats to recreationally hunt and kill. Ultimately, Masque of the Red Death had some charming moments and clever conceits, but equally deep flaws in rendering and general lack of engaging plot. I think this graphic novel may amuse Pini's more established fans but it is too self-indulgent to win her any new followers.

Masque of the Red death . com

Other Reviews:
Deb Aoki []: [3/5] "While there are a few missteps, such as the garish costumes, the long-winded dialogue, and a more 'grown-up' plot than most yaoi manga, it does accomplish something unexpected...."
ComicsBulletin: [5/5] "Taken all together, Masque of the Red Death is a superb opening volume."

See also:
GoodReads : Wikipedia

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