Travelling Man's Blog

Review: Grunt8790 by Travelling Man
November 14, 2014, 9:00 am
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

Written by Rob Burton

Pictures by Sarah Peploe

Come meet them at Thought Bubble!


There’s always war. But there’s not always freedom. Until one grunt, aware he’s a computer game character but unable to fully process that, realizes that the door into his world opens both ways…


Mind Stain are one of the most interesting small press companies in the UK right now, and this is one of the reasons why. It’s an unrelentingly nasty, NSFW book, showing just how squalid the lead’s life is and Peploe’s art echoes Geoff Darrow’s in her precision depictions of depravity. However, where Darrow has, at times, found himself illustrating empty spectacle, here Peploe and Burton turn in a nuanced, clever take on what could have been pat and predictable. The real world is awful, but no one’s trying to shoot you in it and as the Grunt adapts we follow him through joy, revulsion and a final, killer realization. There’s no magic button here, no sense of the world suddenly being better. The grass isn’t greener on the other side it’s just not rendered and the emotional arc here is nasty, unusual and will stay with you. Peploe’s art is a huge part of that but Burton’s script is also excellent and lives in the details. An early reference to how the soldiers know they aren’t real but don’t care is especially well handled as is the final line.


Squalid, nasty and human in every way, especially the bad ones,this is a short tale with big ideas. It hits everything it aims at too. Excellent stuff.


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