A little over ten years ago, I had one of Punk Planet’s “DIY Files” tacked up over my desk. I stared at it religiously, nightly, every time I sat down to work or answer mail. It was titled “How to Write a Novel,” and was written by Jim Munroe. He’d written one himself and gotten it picked up, I believe, by HarperCollins. A few years later, he’d grown pretty firmly disillusioned with the mainstream publishing industry and has remained entrenched in the DIY publishing world ever since. So, I finished my novel and yeah, it was a piece of garbage, entirely unpublishable and probably more cathartic than anything else. Point is, Munroe was a punk who had walked down that path before me and had given me—if not a working blueprint on how to write a decent book—at least the impetus and inspiration to follow through and keep working even when the words weren’t coming well. So it’s great to see him still kicking around and, more importantly, successfully tackling the graphic novel format.
I really don’t want to give too much of the plot away, as much of the joy of reading this thing comes from the fact that things get increasingly weird as the chapters go on. I will say that the story begins in an apparently post-Rapture world; hundreds of thousands of people have literally floated from the earth and disappeared, ascending into the sky. Jesus Christ is campaigning with George Bush—solely, of course, in red states. Angels (dressed in Vietnam-era fatigues and carrying M-16s) are systematically attempting to wipe out the remaining inhabitants of earth and facing resistance. Within the story, there are talking dogs, gay angels, resurrected homeless men, cyber-psychic lesbians, bikers that turn water into wine, a woman who turns ash into attack-birds, invisible Korean convenience store owners, and more. Like I said, I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but apart from the terrific pace of the story and Salgood Sam’s gorgeous artwork, it’s this attention to detail and bizarre bending of reality that makes Therefore, Repent! such a blast to pore over.
Salgood Sam (dude’s real name is Max Douglas—it’s backwards, get it?) has worked on titles for Marvel, DC, and Image, as well as a host of indie zines and comics; his work is somewhat suggestive of Derek Hess, but is much more refined. His sense of perspective and value is top-notch—as far as I can tell, his illustrations must be a mix of brushwork, charcoal, pencil, and ink washes. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. Munroe’s gotten the pacing of the story down tight and every chapter’s got a cliffhanger that kept me turning pages—I read Therefore, Repent! in one sitting and still find myself thumbing through it well after the fact.
All told, this one’s a keeper; the ending ties everything together nicely, but it’s one fuck of a weird ride before you get there. –Keith Rosson (No Media Kings, 10 Trellanock Ave., TorontoON, M1C 5B5, Canada)