Good Readin’ 2012.1 – Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell

Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell © Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan

Brooklyn is one borough that has never wanted for eccentric characters, comprised as it is of lively medley of ethnic neighbourhoods, artist enclaves, hipster hangouts, and yuppie playgrounds. Which is likely the reason why Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan, the artist-writer duo behind Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell, decided to plant their wide and varied cast of demigods, demons, angels, avatars, monsters, magicians, and all-too-human ne’er-do-wells right smack-dab in the middle of the BK. After all, amidst the native weirdness and neo-bohemia of modern-day Brooklyn, even the supernatural seems, well, natural.

Essentially a slice-of-life romantic-comedy with a mytho-theological twist, Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell follows its titular working-stiff hero as he strives to eke out both a living and an afterlife. Not unlike your average post-collegiate twenty-something, Darwin Carmichael is trapped underneath a mountain of debt. Karmic debt, that is—the tragic result of babysitting make-outs, a newly-reincarnated Dalai Lama, and a wobbly high-chair. Worse yet, most paying jobs are pretty light on the karma points. Tricky tricky.

On the plus side, good karma comes fairly easy with clean living and healthy relationships—both of which are noticeably lacking in Darwin’s little corner of the world. Instead, there are lingering post-breakup issues with a wealthy karmic heiress (an interestingly layered take on the whole spoiled-rich/frustrated-poor dynamic), well-intended lectures from “karma police” and their associate spiritual-social workers, and manifold household dramas involving a tween-like “pet” manticore, a self-absorbed artist and his troubled muse, a sexist minotaur landlord, and a couch-surfing trio of pothead angels. Typical BK ish, really.

Fan Art: Ah, Skittles—immortal manticore, forever blessed with the flower of youth—to think that even you, the uncredited counselor to the greatest minds in human history, are susceptible to the Bieber Fever!

As a matter of technique, Ms. Goldstein’s brand of deceptively simple line work is a study in controlled delivery, providing the reader/viewer with everything they need to understand the scene without overloading any given panel with unnecessary details. Not to mention her fine use of colour, texture, pattern, shading and toning—a pleasure to see, a joy to imitate.


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