Dead Boy Detectives #1

by kanchilr1 on December 31, 2013

Writer Toby Litt Artist Mark Buckingham




Many people are going to be in the same boat as me regarding the continuity of this series, they will know that this concept is originally from Sandman and likely nothing else about these heroes. What they will likely not know is that this concept has been tried a couple of different times by enthusiastic creators. 2001 saw the first mini-series featuring the characters written by none other than Ed Brubaker himself. Toby Litt is a very accomplished novelist that is about to launch the next installment of the deceased sleuths. He seems well versed in the field of writing, as he currently lectures on the subject in Birkbeck, the University of London. The series will likely get a stronger push with the other half of the creative team, as the title is drawn by none other than Fables alumni Mark Buckingham. The illustrator can capture some truly vivid images in a manner that is anything but conventional in the space of modern comic books, which is perfect for a concept as silly as The Dead Boy Detectives.




Clarity is very important for modern comic books and first issues. If I truly did have no idea who these people were, this comic book would not interest me in the least. It barely even takes the time to introduce the concept, or give readers a reason to care about these children before launching off the plot. Thankfully, the new characters introduced in this installment are generally more interesting than the leads. There are a few mysteries established fairly well here that may be enough to keep fans of the property reading longer. The hints at Death would also lead to some renewed interest if she ever showed up in the story. It also helps that the art is so lush with establishing the different facial expressions and mood of everyone here. The cliffhanger is not enough to keep a casual reader interested in the next issue.




The first thing that will likely strike most people upon opening these pages, is how beautiful Buckingham’s art is. The penciller draws some strikingly beautiful English style worlds, but in a manner that separates his work from Fables. The graininess that made something like Fables seem truly timeless is now gone, readers are now given a more modern and cleaned up pencil style with this series. Both different facets of Buckingham’s art are interesting, and it is also enjoyable to see a great artist try something truly unique. Gary Erskine assists Buckingham on inks, which must be another big piece of why the art looks so different here. The inks aid the pencilling by giving it a certain amount of weight that the tale would not have otherwise. The color palette by Lee Loughridge has a really unique manner of switching from yellows to blues, and then back again. The work seems to be influenced by colorists like Jordie Bellaire, but only benefit from her style and not copy it.




The Dead Boy Detectives does not have enough in it’s first issue to keep readers interested for the long haul. The writing here lacks clarity and does not introduce the concept very well. However, those that are interested in this series for Mark Buckingham’s pencils will not be disappointed.

Our Score:


A Look Inside