Bloodletting Go : “Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher” #2

Some may call the events in the second (and final) issue of writer Thomas Stemrich and artist Patrick Keck’s Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher a kind of “waking nightmare,” but trust me when I say underneath it all there’s a morality play on nature vs. nurture, learning vs. instinct, and maybe even friendship vs. tribal loyalty. You’ve just gotta wade though a whole lot of the red stuff to get there.

As with the first installment of this story, that red stuff is depicted in black and white, but honestly — Keck’s solid, thick-lined, “crunchy” art is best experienced with the full impact of his rich detail unobstructed by color. This is visceral work, to be sure, but cartoonishly so, which is to say that it hits home precisely due to the force of its aesthetic outlandishness. I could spend all day looking at this art if I didn’t have a clock to punch, but who are we kidding? I’m not above goldbricking on the job and reading comics when I’m supposed to be working. The fact that this particular comic (presented once again in a magazine-sized format with awesomely striking covers screen-printed by master of the medium Chris Cajero Cilla at Sardine Can Press) hasn’t made it out of my desk drawer goes to show that I’m paying a lot of attention to it on the city’s dime — and, for the sake of my continued employment, I’d probably do well to drop that subject now.

I don’t want to sell the story short in all this, though : after all, it’s Stemrich who provides Keck with all that killer (a term I invoke quite literally) stuff to sink his artistic teeth into, and this concluding chapter is a breakneck-paced affair indeed. Bleeder’s got a good thing going with his blood-bank-on-two-legs buddy, but when the other members of his de facto “family” or “clan” get wind, they want in on the action, too, which forces a climax whereby Bleeder must choose between his pal Thum and the needs/wants of his species, which is quite the existential dilemma for a bug — and who knows might even be a real pickle for a person. Then there’s the added consideration of whether or not, should he decide in Thum’s favor, it’s purely out of self-interest or some sense of genuine concern, but hey : let’s just grapple with one “heavy” idea at a time and go with the gushing red flow, shall we?

So yeah, things move at a brisk clip here and come to a conclusion best described as “logically and emotionally satisfying, with a hint of ambiguity to spice things up,” but it’s the journey that matters here even more than the destination, and I’m not entirely sure I was ready for that journey to end, even though I knew it would be going in. Fortunately, there’s some very cool pin-up art by Josh Simmons, Daria Tessler, Kara Daving, Will Iversen, and Mr. Stemrich himself to ease us out the door, but surely I can’t be the only one wishing that this might have gone on for one more issue — can I?

Absent that, though, I’ve gotta say that I hope these two are either planning another collaboration as we speak, or will give it some serious thought in the near future. Sure, Keck’s proven he can “fly solo” with the best of them, but between this and his work with the aforementioned Mr. Simmons, he’s demonstrated that he’s one of those cartoonists who doesn’t lose a step at all when somebody else is doing the scripts. That’s a rare thing indeed in today’s comics scene, and I hope he’ll continue to hone his “chops” both as a singular creator and a collaborator, because the latter is one of those skills that not too many cartoonists seem interested in developing.
Still, if this turns out to be a “one-and-done” meeting of the minds, at least Stemrich and Keck can rest assured that it was a memorable one indeed. I can say without hesitation that this is a comic I’ll keep on returning to over and over again — and one of these, days I may even do so from home.


Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher #2 is available for $10.00 from Patrick Keck’s Storenvy site at

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to

5 thoughts on “Bloodletting Go : “Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher” #2

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