David Byrne’s Canceled (#1) – David Byrne

3 out of 5

Nice: a horror comic that doesn’t go in for Tales from the Crypt twists, and that’s actually willing to get… weird. David Byrne’s ‘Canceled’ starts off in tricksy territory, given the “cancel culture”-wary era in which it was released, and featuring a brash TV entertainer who is being – in the more traditional sense of the word – canceled due to low ratings; there’s a sense that Byrne might be taking a combative stance against cancellation, which isn’t necessarily the comic I want to read, and I accept that that’s a personal opinion. However! Whatever your take on the topic, that’s not what’s happening, and I’d even say there’s an interesting bit of commentary given how the canceled entertainer, who starts to haunt the TV signals, natch, is taken care of…

This opening bit, in black and white that harkens to 50s era television (if the artists are listed in order – Pabliku Man, doing an excellent job of establishing mood) is quite good.

Thereafter, ‘Canceled’ becomes layer after layer of stories that connect this he’s-in-the-signal spook to scenes of violence, spread across eras and cultures. I wouldn’t think there’s much commentary to these flashes (if there was intended to be any to start with), and they’re all impressively pretty downbeat, with solid art from Renan Balmonte, MedManga, and Nick Justus. The “problem” is that these layers are only a few pages each, which really isn’t enough time to establish characters or mood. It makes for a fun read, but I’d say the entirety of the comic is the first black and white bit, and the rest feels like a good idea that ultimately just filled pages.

But going back to the start – this amount to a unique horror comic overall, structurally not aligning with “traditional” horror books, and also effectively creepy at point.