Don’t look now, but it appears as though we’ve got a new “Seattle Dream Team” in the small press scene, as luminaries (in my book, at any rate) Sarah Romano Diehl and Brandon Lehmann step outside both their respective wheelhouses for the new collaborative effort, I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer, just released under Lehmann’s own Bad Publisher Books imprint. And while it’s entirely what you’d expect given its title, it’s nothing like you’d expect given the respective CV’s of each of the cartoonists involved.
Points, then, for truth in advertising and being something rather distinctive and new, then.
Survivors of the post-Scream “teen slasher” revival of the 1990s will have the premise for this one sussed, no doubt : a group of friends (five, to be specific) are desperate to cover up their involvement in a hit-and-run that left an innocent party dead, and subsequently find themselves stalked, individually and collectively, by a fisherman’s-cloaked mystery figure with a hook hand and, apparently, a thirst for vengeance — perhaps of the “from beyond the grave” variety. But appearances are deceiving and the twist that hits toward the end goes some way toward validating, perhaps even redeeming, the humorous tone that underscores the proceedings throughout — which, admittedly, sounds strange when we’re talking about what should, ostensibly, be a horror comic.
Still, it’s not like the title itself doesn’t give away that this modest 20-pager likely has its tongue firmly in its cheek. But while Romano Diehl and Lehmann both exhibit rather keen senses of humor in their “solo” work, here they show a deft touch with what borders on being a belabored premise and thread a pretty tight needle thanks to her fluid and expressive illustration and his sharp scripting. Maybe, by rights, anything this obvious shouldn’t work — but when a comic’s got this kind of creative synergy, it’s pretty hard to deny its creators their aims. In other words, these two are simply too good at what they do to fuck up anything they put their not-inconsiderable talents into.
So, yeah, this is fun stuff — by the time all is said and done, in fact, very fun stuff. And in this day and age, that’s something in far too short a supply to easily shrug aside. My advice, then, would be to appreciate anything legitimately and intelligently fun when and where is presents itself — it’s a rough old world out there, the news is almost all bad, and even nostalgia-drenched good times, if done properly, are still good times. And when the pages you find those good times in (or should that be on?) are delineated with this much stylish and exaggerated-in-all-the-right-ways illustration? Give thanks, friends, give thanks.
Hell, you needn’t even brush up on your “teen slasher” history to get a solid kick out of this comic, given that just about everyone of a certain age is plenty familiar with the well from which the story here has sprung — whether they admit to their “cool” friends or not. So, go on — admit to yourself it’s okay to enjoy a clever pastiche on a done-to-death premise, kick back, and take this book for what it clearly and obviously is : a labor of love that dearly wants to entertain you, and succeeds quite nicely in doing so.
I Like Totally Know What You Did Last Summer is available for what looks to me to be a precisely- calculated “break even” price of $6.90 from Bad Publisher Books’ Storenvy site at https://www.storenvy.com/products/28512017-i-like-totally-know-what-you-did-last-summer
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