The Wrenchies starts out strange and keeps on heading out from there. Dalrymple writes a bizarre, well-crafted piece of apocalyptic fiction that refuses to be “about” any one thing. It is the story of a group of children living in an apocalyptic wasteland where adults are stolen and transformed into monsters. It is about a young misfit from our world who gets drawn into the world; it’s about a group of comic book characters who turn out to be real, two boys who go into a cave they should not, and someone who is dreaming. A quest is undertaken, monsters are fought, people die, drugs are taken, and bugs are squished. Choices are made and unmade. In a balance between horror and humor, weaponry names are taken from the book of Revelation which is also quoted at odd moments throughout the book. Time is not quite linear. Emotionally, the tale is detached: The horrors happen, but, with the exception of Hollis, the protagonists are too used to them to be horrified
Dalrymple plays with the artistic conventions as well. The beginning is fairly traditional panel-wise, with some full-page panels and a few insets. Then one character flies off the page and into another one. Later, panels loosen up and figures fly from one page to another. By the end, the Scientist is declaiming his philosophy and the panels bunch together tightly as his speech flows from page to page. The color scheme is subdued with an emphasis on browns, dull oranges, and grays. Bug guts are green and splatter liberally. Everything is shaggy, worn down, and discouraged.
The Wrenchies is not for young children or the faint of heart. It is for those who enjoy strange apocalyptic stories with bits of the book of Revelation thrown in and for those who like their work on the dark side.
The Wrenchies is available now.
Writer: Farel Dalrymple
Artist: Farel Dalrymple
Publisher: First Second Books
Publication Date: July 15 2014
ISBN: 159643421X (ISBN13: 9781596434219)