Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Flagler's Few, Volume 1 - The Reaper of St. George Street

At this year's MegaCon, I happened across writer/artist Andre Frattino while walking up and down the aisles of artist alley.  Frattino was touting his wares (as was every other creators in artist alley), and while I initially walked past, I had to go back and take a second look.  He had several graphic novels at his table - The Reaper of St. George Street. Lost Souls of Savannah. The Vampirate of Matanzas Inlet.  With titles like those, how could I not take a closer look.  Frattino was friendly and definitely excited about his work - a series of tales about a group if unlikely ghost hunters in Florida's very own haunted city, St. Augustine. I was hooked, so I picked up all three books (after all, I'm a huge supporter of independent comic creators - the fact that these told ghost stories set in my own back yard? well, that was simply an added bonus).

The Reaper of St. George Street is the first volume in this series, and it introduces readers to this eclectic cast of characters.  William Garrings, the doubting Thomas who carries a chip on his shoulder following the death of his father.  Franklin Dinklemyer, the uber-nerd with all the sci-fi / fantasy / comic knowledge you'll ever need.  Roger Blimes, the modern day pirate (better known as a pick-pocket).  Allison Stewart, the resident witch who calls herself "Raven."  These guys certainly aren't Ghost Hunters, that's for sure.

So, what exactly are they?

Well, they are real people.  Sort of.  I mean, obviously, they aren't real, since they are simply drawings on a page.  But they are well-rounded, well developed characters, and in just under 250 pages, Frattino gives you everything you need to know to not only like each and every one of them, but to root for them and turn each page, dying to see how they are going to defeat the ghost (or in this case, the Reaper).  While the art is not what might be termed "mainstream" comic art, it has flair and style all its own that lends the right mix of humor and haunting to the story.

The story centers around a fellow college student that William meets upon his arrival in St,. Augustine.  Claire Evans hasn't been sleeping well. She is plagued by nightmares of this shadowy creature following her.  Attacking her.  Killing her.  She wakes up screaming, unsure of what is happening.  William quickly falls for Claire - until Roger shows him a picture of Claire.  In an antique shop, he shows William an image of Claire from the 1800s!  Could she be a ghost?  But William doesn't believe is ghosts.  Doesn't he?  It gets even more confusing when he sees a ghost eaten by the shadowy creature that has been haunting Claire's dreams.  With the help of Franklin, Roger, and Raven, William sets out to uncover the truth and, quite possibly, save Claire's life.

With real St. Augustine settings and history thrown into the mix, this story has a very cinematic feel to it, and I could easily see this transferred into television or film.  Frattino paces the story nicely, knows when to cut scenes and jump, and with the obligatory ending that opens the door for further stories, he's got a winner on his hands.

And not only did I get a cool Raven bookmark when I bought all three books, but he was kind enough to sketch me into the book itself!  Now, how cool is that?

RATING:  9 copies of Demonslayers out of 10 for keeping it real, even in the midst of a fun-filled, ghost-haunted romp through a fictionalized St. Augustine.

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