Earlier this year when I interviewed Ricardo Porven, creator of Donnie Goth, he revealed that he was planning on releasing a print collection of his web-comic strips when he felt he had enough material. Well that time has come with the release of Gothology: Year 1, and Geeks Unleashed is pleased to bring you a review of the book.
As the title of this collection suggests this is Donnie Goth: the early years. However Porven has not included some of the earliest strips, instead opting to collect strips from the past couple of years. The book features some seasonal strips, one of which features the introduction of a major new character and a pivotal moment in Donnie’s life.
In Back to Cruel Donnie and his necromancer salamander pal Oliver try to step in to help what they believe is a kid getting bullied. Their getting involved gets a little out of hand and the “bullies” are killed. As it turns out the kid wasn’t getting bullied but they were actually all friends rehearsing for Stomp Out Bullying Week, it seems that Donnie’s initial reluctance to get involved was wholly justified. Oliver meanwhile stalks off to leave his pal facing the fall-out. This is a great strip to open the collection as it introduces the relationship between Donnie and Oliver which is central to the comic, and the main reason it is a pleasure to read.
The humour of the strip continues in Girls. I loved this strip when I first read it and it still has bags of charm on re-reading. Porven captures the awkwardness of being a teenager, and in Donnie’s case an ostracized teenager, through a simple interaction between Donnie and a girl. The end result of Donnie trying to capture the girl’s affections is inevitable but still strikes a sad chord in the reader. I love Porven’s art in this strip, capturing as it does the vulnerability of Donnie in this situation.
In Hallows Eve Ball it seems that Donnie might actually have more luck with the girl he meets at the school ball. She approaches him and asks if he wants to dance. Everything is going well until Oliver gets involved and again disaster ensues. This is a longer strip and you can see the developing characteristics of Donnie very well in Hallows Eve Ball. His relationship with Oliver is becoming more complicated as Donnie grows up and starts to discover girls.
In Crappy Birthday Oliver helps Donnie celebrate his birthday after no-one shows up to his party. Everyone knows what a horrible feeling it is to think that people don’t like you and Oliver sets about trying to make Oliver feel better. His methods are unorthodox, though not for Oliver, but the end result is a happy Donnie and their friendship is strengthened again. Despite its title Crappy Birthday is a feel-good strip and it is beautifully illustrated by Luis Diaz, who Porven got on board to take some of the pressure of producing the strips off him.
The final strip in this collected edition is X-Massacre, a decidedly gruesome Christmas tale, not recommended for the little ones. Porven is back on full art duties on this one and it looks great. The plot involves thieving Santa’s, a zombie reindeer and the introduction of a very important character in Donnie’s life, one that will change his life forever. It also features a pivotal moment for Oliver which I won’t spoil here. The action is intense in X-Massacre and Porven handles the writing and the art brilliantly. It’s an exciting, emotional end to the collection and leaves the reader hungry for more.
I wondered how the transition from web-comic to print would work in practice for Donnie Goth, and I’m pleased to say that it works perfectly. It’s great to see these self-contained strips collected together where they can be pored over and really appreciated on the page.
With Christmas just around the corner Gothology: Donnie Goth Year 1 is the perfect last minute gift for the disillusioned teenager in your life or for anyone who likes well-written, beautifully illustrated, character-driven comic books.
Follow the link below for details on how to get your hands on Gothology and for details of the next instalment in Donnie’s print adventures.