Pros: lush artwork, bonus features
Cons: nudity started to feel excessive
When the white witch Virtue makes a selfish wish for a child, the demon Slur grants that wish. He taunts her that their daughter, Shame, will be a tool of evil. To prevent Shame from damaging the world, Virtue contains her in a forest grove. But evil cannot be contained.
Shame is comprised of three comics: Conception, Pursuit, and Redemption. There’s a forward by Colleen Doran, a preface by Lovern Kindzierski, and a preview of the next comic in the series, Tales of Hope. It also contains a discussion about Shame between Lovern Kindzierski, John Bolton, and Alexander Finbow (publisher and editor in chief of Renegade Arts Entertainment) that includes some concept and finished artwork, the original outline for the Shame graphic novel, and some panel description to finished copy artwork stills.
Graphic novel artwork can be hit or miss for me. John Bolton’s artwork is lush and descriptive. It is done in photorealistic watercolours and form a mix of gorgeous and grotesque. When the artwork aims for beautiful it’s stunning. When it doesn’t, there are hideous, misshapen creatures. I really liked the artwork around the young Virtue in book 2, and a lot of Shame’s medieval outfits in book 3. Personally I’m not so keen on the grotesque side of art, and so many panels were not to my liking. Virtue’s old form, for example, is the unattractive, warty witch from traditional fairytales.
There’s a fair amount of nudity, as fits the adult nature of this fairytale. Some of it felt warranted, like the nymphs, though at times it started to feel gratuitous, as when nipples were visible through opaque cloth. Having said that, there is no sexual violence or gratuitous sex depicted.
I’d expected the plot to have a more Pandora’s Box feel, showing how the world changed when shame was introduced to it, but that’s not what happened. It’s a clear cut story of evil versus good, where true evil cannot be redeemed, and pure good cannot be corrupted. Only a man of fate, standing between them, has the ability to choose which side to join, and thereby change the outcome.
Slur and his minions are quite terrifying in execution. Their guiding of Shame down the dark path is chilling.
As someone who doesn’t believe in original sin or that the sins of the parents damn their children, I was surprised that Virtue simply left the child and didn’t even try to prevent her corruption (though the assumption is that Shame is automatically corrupt, I would argue that the fact that she wonders why her mother abandoned her shows she could have turned another way).
It’s an interesting story with a unique art style.