“I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, would, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him.”
– Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
Dark, gritty, and brutally unforgiving, welcome to The Dregs. Written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, the four-issue mini series by Black Mask, is set in a five square block area of downtown Vancouver known to many as The Dregs. The area of the city that the homeless population has been pushed into. Now the Dregs are becoming gentrified, what exactly does that mean for the current residents, and who is behind it? This surreal and dark world is brought to life by the art of Eric Zawadzki (Last Born) and Dee Cunniffe (X’ed).
A restaurant, located in the heart of The Dregs,has figured out the perfect green solution for the homeless problem. Giving a whole new meaning to the adage “you are what you eat”, while appealing to the foodie’s flocking from uptown. Arnold a very Don Quixote like homeless man, is waking up from his Listo (the drug of choice in The Dregs) hangover to find someone telling him his friend Manny is missing. However Arnold knows there’s only two ways out of the Dregs, either you get sober or death. After scoring some more Listo from Labamba, a local peddler, he heads over to where Manny would squat for the night. Only to discover the building has been demolished, an ominous sign is hanging in its place and a woman who might have answers.
Determined to find out what happened to Manny, Arnold starts to put together the pieces to a much larger puzzle. Unfortunately for him, someone else knows what he’s up to and won’t let Arnold or anyone else get in their way. Walking his way through the Dregs, Arnold picks up clue’s from abandon buildings and foreclosed properties. That’s when he get’s a break in the case, after retracing his step’s and seeing a familiar face. At this point Arnold has himself convinced it’s all about the shapes, which makes us wonder if he is on to something, or is this just part of the paranoia side effect from the Listo. Everything seems to be too much for Arnold, so he does what he thinks is best, and takes a large amount of Listo, causing him to O.D. possibly making him share Manny’s fate.
Black Mask once again manages to create something not only so insanely fucked up,that also holds a dingy mirror to modern society. Nadler and Thompson construct a macabre look at modern urban cities, and take close note to not only the corporate renovations, but also how these changes affect the people less thought of within the cities. Zawadzki’s art directly reflects the depression and despair that is life in the Dregs, while Cunniffe’s choice in color palette completely match’s the dark tone. After reading this I was not only excited for the next issue already, but I was left reeling with questions. Who was Arnold before living in the Dregs? Who is making Listo, and what is its real purpose? Who was the mysterious woman at Manny’s? Of course most importantly, whatever happened to that Cosby sweater?