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Review: Death by Chocolate: Redux

Death by Chocolate: Redux is a bizarre collection of short stories. See, one day this guy was visiting an unusual chocolate factory when he fell into the vat ... and emerged as a man composed entirely of chocolate. And who can turn anything else into chocolate with a wave of his hands. Now he works as FBI Agent Swete with his partner Anderson ... for the FBI's Food Crimes Division.

Seriously.

It's an interesting read. On the one hand, it's definitely an early work in the career of someone who might become very talented someday; his art has an early, amateurish look to it - but the visual storytelling is near-faultless, and he eschews the experimental page layouts that most beginning artists unwisely attempt in favor of a (usually) nine-panel grid approach.

At the same time, his writing could use some work; one of the last stories in the collection starts in media res, then flashes back to the beginning of the tale, during which Swete & Anderson travel back in time, and then hear ANOTHER story told in flashback that lasts a dozen pages. This overly convoluted narrative structure is pretty much exactly what every book on writing tells you NOT to do. And yet this very story involves not only time travel, but a talking dog from an alternate-Earth full of talking dogs, who comes to our world and eventually sets off to find his favorite author - Ernest Hemingway - to teach him (the dog) how to write. Other stories involve government-funded all-consuming zombie-like beings called the Metabolators (the ultimate clean-up crew), and the secret of immortality cooked into a dish of spaghetti: The Eternity Pasta. With ideas as far-out as those, I'll give a LOT of leeway to a writer/artist who may still be perfecting his craft!

Death by Chocolate: Redux may not be the most polished graphic novel you'll ever read, but it makes up for its shortcomings by being an entertainingly offbeat experience.

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