Writer: Cy Dethan
Artist: Stephen Downey
Release Date: 07/2011-12/2011
I love these sick and twisted horror comics, and Cancertown is some of the best I have read. You follow a man named Vince Morley who is diagnosed with a mental disorder where patients feel they are missing organs, they are already dead, or are missing limbs. He has a terminal brain tumor (that he calls Baby Meatfist) and he ends up slipping into this world of Cancertown. It all started when he met a homeless and deformed girl on the street. He gave her a blanket because his doctor said he should do nice things before he dies. Later another bum steals her blanket and he slips into Cancertown. The lore is pretty interesting, but the whole story feels convoluted and confusing until the end.
You are always left in the dark, but there are a lot of politics in Cancertown. Crosshair and Corpsegrinder are two sick players who both want Morley dead. Crosshair uses sentient eyeballs as weapons and pets, Corpsegrinder can grow bigger when people fear him. Later on, you mean the Piecemaker and Papercut. Papercut ends up being Morley’s ally, but who she is and where she came from are later told in the second volume. All the characters’ names are very unique and I love their personalities. You can slowly see Vince fall apart as he finds crossing points and slips back into the real world — usually waking up in places he can’t remember being. He wants to destroy Cancertown and everyone in it, but he wants to save this girl as well.
As you can see the story is really complicated and it is. The art is very dark and atmospheric if a bit messy. There’s a lot of gore and violence in this series and a lot of cursing. I was honestly more disturbed by Vince’s mental state than anything else. To see a terminally ill cancer patient fall apart at the seams is just horrifying. I just wish the story made a bit more sense because even at the end, I was still a bit confused about what was going on, but you end up forgiving it for the entertaining journey that Vince goes through.
Cancertown is a rare mature comic, it delves into the psyche of the human mind rather than superpowers. I loved watching Vince fall apart and was both horrified at the same time. The characters are fantastic and so original, you won’t put the comic down. If only the story wasn’t as mixed up and complicated, or just told better, but that’s the only issue I can pull from this series.