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Claude Lalumiere's Fantastic Fiction

by Gilbert Hernandez

(Vertigo, $19.99, 128 pages; hardcover, published in July 2006.)

cover scanGilbert Hernandez is most famous for having co-created the hit underground comics series Love & Rockets with his two brothers, Jaime and Mario. Gilbert, however, is a much more prolific cartoonist than his siblings; consequently, his byline is frequently found on side projects.

With Sloth, Gilbert delivers his strongest non-Love & Rockets work to date.

A teenager awakes after a year spent in a coma and finds himself unable to cope with the rapid pace of waking life. Also, he suspects his best friend of lusting after his girlfriend, both of them his bandmates in a fledgling rock trio. On a lark, the three of them investigate an urban legend about a haunted lemon orchard and its mysterious goatman. After an encounter with the unsettling monster, reality completely changes, everyone's identities and circumstances becoming confused and oddly altered.

Gilbert deftly portrays his teenagers; they are full-fledged characters, each with their own peculiar desires, quirks, and shortcomings. In fact, the entire cast is imbued with fragile depth, making every scene matter and, sometimes, hurt.

Rock 'n' roll and teenage lust drive this strange and mysterious tale of terror and folklore.

Sloth mines the territory of cult art/horror films of the past decade. In it we find echoes of The Blair Witch Project, Donnie Darko, and David Lynch's Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. But Gilbert doesn't simply pastiche; he synthesizes the pop zeitgeist and filters it through his own magical imagination and distinctive style of storytelling.

Originally published in
The Montreal Gazette, Saturday, 16 December 2006.

Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction is a series of
capsule reviews first published in the Saturday Books
section of The Montreal Gazette.

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