An amazing customer ‘Vine Voice’ review of True Swamp appeared on Amazon.com:
I came up with a number of potential headlines for this Amazon review of True Swamp:
“Classic from Seattle’s grunge comics scene”
“How can a comic about talking frogs and a foul-mouthed marmot be so moving and achingly human?”
But ultimately the one I chose above is the place I must start from. Reading True Swamp again close to 20 years after encountering it around 1994, I can reach no conclusion other than that True Swamp is a genuine classic of the medium, and readers familiar with the others — Sandman, Cerebus, Watchmen, take your pick — owe it to themselves to check it out.
On the surface, Lewis seems to follow few rules of “normal” storytelling. Situations meander into one another, running on pure, sometimes hallucinatory inspiration. Only later, at the end of the chapters, does the reader see how well thought-out the plotting often actually is, for instance issue #2, which floats along in its dreamy, organic, loose way, until suddenly you realize you’ve been reading a tightly structured pulp horror/detective story, complete with some clever plot twists.
There is a confidence to this material that is surprising for such a young man (Lewis began True Swamp at age 21) and someone whose drawing initially seemed so unpolished. The art evolves practically page to page, and by quantum leaps compared to his minicomic art for issue #1, included in this hardcover. Given Lewis’s age and apparent lack of experience, everything about True Swamp *should* have come out as amateur — the art, the writing, the world-building — but none of it does. The combination of confidence and raw talent is something we’ve seen before, but not usually in comics. We’ve seen it in places like rock and roll, punk, grunge.
I see True Swamp as a grunge comics classic. Lewis did create True Swamp in Seattle, in the early 90′s, among a vibrant scene of comic book artists who drew rough and scratchy artwork, and True Swamp is characterized by much of what’s considered the grunge ethos: concerned above all with authenticity (check), full of distortion, fueled by raw energy over technical skill (especially in the original #1, issue #2, and a certain commitment to raw artwork even when Lewis’s drawing had evolved by miles in the later issues), and apathetic, angsty, or depressive lyrics (three adjectives that describe most of True Swamp‘s denizens).
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Read the rest of the review here, and order a copy while you’re there