‘Sympathy For The Devil’
Created by Daniel Bristow-Bailey.
Funded through Kickstarter – A4 Format – Black and White interiors.
The Cover – As is common with the interior art the cover features a lot of great detail. We see a crowd of angels all with their halos still intact. Running through in a darker suit and haloless is the hero of the piece Lucifer. The artist (and I’m careful in this review with my use of the word ‘Creator’) individualises everyone in the crowd to impressive levels. However, I do feel that in an attempt to give the titles Biblical grandeur a font has been chosen that is a little unreadable to a casual glance. It fits the bill thematically but not practically.
The Story – Lucifer works in the bureaucracy heavy offices situated in Heaven at the point where the Book of Genesis talks about the Judeo/Christian Creation Myth. At the opening of the book he is hard at work pitching his new idea for developing dinosaur DNA at the regular meeting. He’s come up with the concept of ‘birds’. At the end of the table is the huge bearded head of God.
‘Make them smaller and lighter and they can fly.’
That Angel called Michael (the one with the armour and the flaming sword) isn’t a fan of Lucifer and his plans and leads a pile-on ridiculing those avian ideas with comments like ‘What’s to stop them shitting everywhere?’ Lucifer gets other snarky questions about Risk Assessments and where these birds sit? He feels pretty frustrated when the project gets shelved and heads off to get pissed with his buddy Azrael.
The paperwork and red tape continues and turns out that God is reworking the Terms and Conditions for the upcoming Garden of Eden. Lucifer also sees a circulating memo where Michael has taken credit for the bird idea and is launching it himself. The subsequent confrontation doesn’t go well and Lucifer’s situation gets worse – I’m sure you can guess….
Lucifer also doesn’t get to go on the Day 7 works outing!
The Review – I hadn’t previously seen any of Daniel’s work so this was a pleasant surprise. I’ll be honest and say that I can’t remember what prompted me to back the KS but I see that Gareth Brookes is mentioned on the Acknowledgements Page so that may have been the push I needed. This is pretty darn accomplished and shows a lot of thought, planning and attention to detail. The Black and White interiors are full of character and lay out Heaven like a Mesopotamian Palace that is full of large throne room style settings with lavish adornments of columns and paintings. The exteriors are a jigsaw puzzle of rectangular interconnecting Assyrian battlements, town squares and walkways. The large MODOK sized head of God works like a regular reminder that this is in fact Heaven and not an office somewhere off the West Way, albeit with great furnishings.
As well as the grandeur to the setting Daniel also appears to apply as much effort to building character. Imagine the intersection of a Douglas Adams novel, the Old Testament and The Office tv series and you get near to the stage this plays with. Insert into that the frustrations of having to reply to emails rather than getting on with your actual work or having to report to HR because you haven’t completed your mandatory Fire Warden online training package and you’ll get the tone. Lucifer, Michael, Azrael and even that massive headed God have palpable uniqueness and quirks. The art makes use of name-tags that are inserted in to show both names but also the annoying protocols of the office environment.
The story is obviously an irreverent retelling of the Genesis myth and the subsequent fall of Lucifer. This is done successfully. But for all of it’s detail it feels a short read. I would have liked more if I were honest. There are some excellent twists here that could have been extrapolated further and perhaps with a slightly more blasphemic transgressiveness. This may be me imprinting my own guilt-ridden Catholic upbringing on the page however. I was pleased to see that there is a second issue planned and that ‘Eden’ will be making an appearance soon and I’ll be in line (online) to pledge on the next instalment as soon as I see it. To it’s credit it is rare that I recommend a book on the Awesome Comics Podcast and on here but I felt that it had slipped under the radar a little.
Let’s face it. Anyone working in an office has the chance of being Lucifer….
I’ve received the digital copy from the Kickstarter and I note from Daniel’s social media that the physical book is being posted out soon. I’m guessing that he’ll then stick copies on a shop for those that haven’t had the chance to pledge. I’ll update this with those links when I get them.
You can have a look at more from Daniel Bristow-Bailey by following him on Twitter here.
Many thanks for reading.