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**This review was originally released in 2008**

I have been a die-hard fan of illustrator Joseph Michael Linsner’s comic book series DAWN for a little over decade. When I first came across his work, I was absolutely blown away by his rich, luscious illustration style. In a fast-moving comic industry which was quickly embracing digital drawing and colorization techniques, Linsner remained a traditionalist, hand-rendering beautiful pages in old-school marker, chalk, pencil and paint that made his work stand out on shelves lined with the same carbon-copy, streamlined superheroes in spandex and chrome. DAWN was also an extremely well developed storyline combining old-world magic and myth with a post-apocalyptic earth-like world that was intensely sensual and intriguing. In 2007 Linsner ended this series, much to his fans’ grief and disappointment and began work on a new series called DARK IVORY, a vampire story based around a teenage goth girl and one very twisted vampire character. When I first heard about this new work, I was thrilled, thinking I would be able to feast on the best of both worlds: Linsner’s illustrations and a vampire tale!

As soon as it came out, I ran to Dragon’s Lair, grabbed the last copy of Issue No. 1 off the shelf and quickly devoured it. That was a month ago. I have waited till just now to write the review, because, well, I was simply disappointed and that saddened me greatly. Linsner has, indeed, maintained his famous high quality of illustration in this new series with traditionally rendered pages that are unmistakably his style. However, the storytelling in this debut issue is questionable. Perhaps I simply became spoiled with his previous series and the other series I read on a regular basis, such as KABUKI by David Mack, which hold themselves to an impeccably high standard of writing. While I understand Linsner’s attempt to capture the “teen angst” of a young goth girl, I felt that it was almost too sophomoric in places, too cheesy in the dialog exchanges between herself and her best friend or in the narrative bubbles. For example:

“Ivory knew that the teen angst she was feeling, although intense, was nothing new, and she was disappointed in herself on some level for being such a cliché. She had seen her older sister governed by her emotions…”

If her angst is cliché, is it really necessary to point that out in the book? I think if I were a teenager I might be a bit offended by the almost patronizing tone in several areas of the book. But, then again, I have high standards for comic books when it comes to the writing. The back-story for DARK IVORY also feels forced and rushed. In an attempt to catch the audience up on the home lives of the two main mortal characters, Linsner illustrates a conversation for several pages between them that is simply over the top obvious with direct questions about each other’s parents, even though the characters are supposed to have known each other for years. Perhaps the story will begin to unfold in a less stilted manner now that the annoying details are out of the way and the writing will take on a higher level of sophistication as was reflected in much of the DAWN series. Just because DARK IVORY is focused around a teenager doesn’t mean that the dialog has to sound like it was written for a primetime TV slot supplemented with canned laughter.

Regardless, of the slightly annoying writing style in this new comic book series, as I mentioned before, Linsner has brought to the table his beautiful, sensual illustration style which is highly enjoyable to peruse. I plan to keep an eye on this series, despite my initial disappointment, and have added it to my store subscription list. In fact, Issue 2 is due out this month so I will be following up this review with a new one in a few days. DARK IVORY may be off to a bit of a rocky start, but I am still highly interested to see what Linsner does with a vampire tale!

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