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