You know, the ocean isn't as scary as it used to be. I mean, yeah, it's still big and dark and wet and terrifying to swim in by yourself and way, way too much to drink in one sitting, but now that we know for a fact that krakens and loreleis and Jormungandr don't actually live at the bottom of it, we feel pretty safe in our ships when the weather's nice. In the tales of old, storms would sometimes herald the coming of a monster, but it was just as easily unsettling to have calm waters. Nowadays, Kevin Costner can drown in the ocean to teach Ashton Kutcher a lesson in friendship and the worst that could happen to his corpse is a couple sharks chomping it. Eh, not scary enough. Thanks, NOAA.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is kind of an homage to those old sailor's tales. One story by a guy named Joe Daxberger, and another by Tony Sedani. Both are all about dudes in boats with horrible situations. I like them. Thing is, they're uber short. Like, I got through the whole thing in less than two minutes. On the one hand, I wouldn't fault them for artistic choices, on the other hand, what kind of price tag do you put on something this short?
They have this quote on the back of the book by Hart Crane, saying "The bottom of the sea is cruel", and I guess it's emblematic of this work- short and to the point.
Each story is only a few pages long, with a little bit of dialogue thrown in. Each deals with the theme of the ocean being a hostile place for men. Since each is so short, the stories focus on evoking a feeling rather than plot, and I think they do a decent job. The first story, "The Fisherman's Feast", is a good reminder that the sea isn't your friend just because we don't have Mega Shark eating our airplanes and gets that "oh crap I'm screwed in the middle of the ocean" feel pretty well. The second story, "A Conversation", deals with fictional monsters, lending more of a creepy vibe to it at the end. I think the feelings they're trying to evoke would be more pronounced if the stories were a little longer, though.
The art is pretty good for both stories, though I think the art in the second story suffers a little bit when the observer pulls back. The thick lines and high detail in the first one are pretty cool. Tony Sedani makes real good looking characters and scenery. If this were in bright, vivid colors instead of black and white, I think I could see it having a Dia de los Muertos kind of vibe to it. Actually I only feel that way because of the skeleton, and how rough and stubby his shapes are. I really enjoy the way he draws his water, though, using these thick lines to make impressive waves. Daxberger's story has great character design too, but he's got more solid objects with fewer details and thinner lines. He kind of goofs a little on a perspective shot but overall it's great. Kind of has a more Greek mythology feel to it, thanks to the aesthetic.
Kind of a short review, but it was a short little comic book. Again, I'm not sure I'd pay much for something I can finish in only a couple minutes. It feels kind of like a book you might tout to artists as a "hey, wanna chip in a short story for a project?" opportunity. It would be a great premise for a larger tome, too, so I think these guys should think about that.
TL;DR: It will probably fit well within the modern American attention span, which may or may not be a good thing, but hey, the art is nice to look at even if there's not too much to read.
A review copy of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was graciously provided to Spandexless by the creators.