First things First. The picture quality of the second issue of Marrow Bones (Ollie’s Tomb) FAR better than the first issue. I’m not sure if it’s the resolution on my computer that made the first issue a little less than the second one, but I’m willing to bet Mr. Orchard just upped his game is all!
Ollie’s Tomb actually takes place before Issue one. Which is kind of cool. In this, we’re introduced to a Nora whose already familiar with Marrow Bones and the wonderfully named Crowsnest Cemetery while Ollie the Vampire is about to come out of his tomb for the first time in what we may assume has been a very, very long time.
The first issue was an intimate play of vignettes introducing us to the characters. Ollie’s Tomb however, feels like a stroll through A.A. Milne’s 100 Acre Wood combined with hayao miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (the zombie’s are fairly reminiscent of the Kodamas, aren‘t they!)
A Lonely Nora wanders through the cemetery with the rumbling foreshadow of trouble (no literally, there’s a storm coming). Nora’s interaction with Ollie is a quite one of hope and optimism. She’s lonely, but she’s not desperate - she just wants a friend.
Ollie is reluctant, but when the rain falls and the lightning crashes, the real trouble begins and Ollie must sacrifice his solitude for an act of kindness towards a stranger.
If you want a real feel for the kind of love that goes into this book, you needn’t look any further than page 17 (Ollie’s shoe flying through the air) and Page 18 - here’s the real bread and butter of a man that’s passionate about his work. The rainy scenes look lovely, but one particular panel stands out. Panel two has a “Crash” sound effect when Ollie smashes into a headstone - if you look closely, you can see that Eric took the time to add just a few raindrops bouncing off of that particular sound effect. That’s love.
A story of a lost ghoul concludes this rainy day as we say goodnight to another Marrow Bones tale.
All in all, a terrific follow up to the beginning of a magical little story. No Gord brothers this time (darn it!) but check out the Librarian in the introduction (what’s up with those CRAZY Legs?!) Also, the first book did so well that a lot of artists contributed some very fine pin up’s near the end of the issue.
For more Eric Orchard and Marrow Bones goodness - check it out here!
At First glance of Eric Orchard's work, several names and titles spring to mind. Edward Gory, Tim Burton, Gloom Cookie, Emily the Strange - but that's where the similarities end.
Orchard has echoes (or even homages, if you will) of what are clearly his influences. Everything from the gothic fairy tales and old 40's and 50's subtle horror movies to the whimsical comedies of the 70's and 80's (Dough Zombies?? Okay!) But he separates all of these influences to create his own world populated with his own characters. The world of Marrow Bones.
Marrow Bones is, for all it's gloom and muck, a world of dreamy magic. A place where all things are possible and anything can (and does) happen. For Nora, the books protagonist, it is her home. Her safe haven from a world of loneliness and cruel people. She is employed, as a hand, at the Ravensbeard Inn, her Uncle Barnaby's place of business.
The first issue involves Nora's escape from where her parents abandoned her in the prison for strange kids. Her escape is aided by some of her Uncle's friends known only as the Gord Brothers (I Can't wait to learn more about these guys!) We're introduced to a lovely cast of characters including the Narrator who reminds me somewhat of the crypt keeper but I feel like I could be this guys pal (he's also known as the Librarian). Mrs. Strumm, a ghost who has lived at the Ravensbeard Inn for as long as anyone can remember. Ollie the Vampire (Easily my favorite character) who's a nervous little wreck. Uncle Barnaby (he's a werewolf, permanently. Though I did mistake him for a gigantic rat in one of the panels). Nora is the center point, and like most stories, she's the catalyst that keeps it all moving forward. Among her many other accomplishments, she's also very skilled at fencing!
I loved this issue. It was my first time reading a completely digital book which presented some difficulties for me. However, I understand the seas of change and I can tell which way the wind is blowing. I'll still have bookshelves full of thousands of pounds worth of cherished paper stories bound in leather - but, perhaps I'll start creating a virtual library as well. I'd be proud to add this first issue of Marrow Bones to the collection.
Eric Orchard clearly puts a lot of passion into his work. His characters are alive and there's a real sense of intimacy between them. After seeing the map at the end of the book, the only thought I had was "I can't wait to see what issue two holds!"
The digital copy rings in at 47 pages for a measly two bucks. You can check out Eric Orchards Site here and pick up a copy of the first issue while you're there too!
Eric Orchard: Marrow Bones Site