For a while now Cinebook has been forging its own path as a publisher of translated French and Belgian comics in English-speaking territories, and has rapidly gained a solid reputation for its wide range of quality titles. While much of it output has consisted of classic titles for an audience who never had a chance to read them before (much in a similar way to how English-speaking audiences are only now really discovering Osamu Tezuka’s manga), it’s good to see them also putting out more recent titles such as Darwin’s Diaries.
It’s the mid-Victorian era and an unknown something in the night is out tearing people to shreds. With a rising number of incidents and only a handful of witnesses, the rumours start to fly. Having published his work On the Origin of Species the previous year, Darwin’s is called in by the prime minister to determine what unidentified creature is committing these violent atrocities. As if his theory of evolution wasn’t already controversial enough, dabbling in potential areas of folklore and myth threaten to jeopardise his scientific legitimacy and social standing.
It’s an interesting concept to take a popular scientific theory and make a horror story out of it. Depicting a dark and truly grim England with a dingy palette and grisly violence, Darwin’s Diaries is less a world of scientific discovery than it is a broken one. Darwin himself gets into drunken fights and sets about screwing whores once he’s out of sight of his wife and kids. Whether it’s a commentary on a man defying the teachings of his world, or just an attempt to ensnare its readers into its flawed protagonist, there are a lot of ingredients thrown into this comic for the reader to take as the mystery continues to deepen and intrigue. To be honest I could’ve done without the misjudged attempts feminism, presented in form of Darwin’s smirkingly patronising sidekick, but otherwise this is a solid mystery story that is high on gore and low on answers. Basically everything I need to be interested in reading the next volume!