Sand & Fury: A ScreamQueen Adventure
Written & Illustrated by Ho Che Anderson
Published by Fantagraphics
After two ambitious, but not-quite-realized projects in King and Pop Life, Ho Che Anderson is taking another tack with his latest book, Sand & Fury: A ScreamQueen Adventure. On the back cover blurb, Howard Chaykin describes the effect of Anderson’s book being “the illegitimate child of Faulkner and Lovecraft.” The Lovecraft is readily apparent, though the book’s sexually charged, terse narrative reminds more of Jim Thompson than ole’ Billy Faulkner.
Of course, those literary comparisons connect most strongly to the book’s tone and subject matter; they’re not necessarily reflective of its quality as a narrative.
A confused and terrifying young woman, with little recollection of her past, serves as a Bien Sidhe, a folklore Banshee, howling over the recently deceased (sometimes causing those deaths with her scream). As she wanders from encounter to encounter, a parallel story of a young, sexually aggressive business executive unfolds. Anderson moves the two stories toward one another, until their connection becomes apparent and a violent climax comes due.
Problem is, the pacing and delivery of the story is choppy and difficult, often compensating for any real clarity or character with titillation and bondage sex scenes (nothing too hardcore, but more than you’ll see in an R film). Rather than follow through on scenes setting up the characters’ relationships, Anderson switches to a sex club scene that fails to give any insight into the connections. The Scream Queen never develops deeply enough to make her sympathetic. The scratchy illustration doesn’t enable the reader to easily recognize the book’s fairly frequent time-shifts, so the timeline is muddled and indecisive.
In the end, the revelation of the connection between the queen and the exec is at once predictable and fitting, suited to the pulp-fiction tenor of the book. The plot’s twisted darkness has a certain appeal, but Anderson’s script and art only confuse the matter. Sand & Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure just doesn’t measure up to its influences.