Mort Grimm is a graphic novella and ghost story, the first sequential work from Alberta illustrator Doug Fraser. It’s an interesting first work, showing what Fraser is capable of and sparking interest in what his next projects could offer.

Writer and Artist: Doug Fraser

Publisher: Adhouse Books

Age: Teens

The book is so short that it’s hard to delve into the plot to any extent without spoiling it. I’ll instead try to illustrate the story by transferring it to a different format, a “three guys walk into a bar” joke:

A trucker, a farmer and a motorcycle cop walk into a roadside cafe. The waitress asks, “Hey, did you see that douchebag speeding on the road?”

The trucker says, “Sometimes I miss things.”

The farmer replies “I was thinking of the crops.”

The police officer cries “VENGEANCE!” whilst reaping souls and dispensing ethereal vengeance.

Anyways, that doesn’t reflect the story at all. The story Doug Fraser DOES tell is great. It’s a short ghost story, the kind you’d hear around a campfire. It’s spooky, but springs from a common enough beginning and tinged with enough local flavor to make it interesting.

The real seller for the book, however, is the art. Fraser has a long history as an illustrator, with some awards and international recognition. He’s also been kind enough to post some of his work online, including some work done for the NHL, for pugilism in general and some absolutely gorgeous art for an article in The Progressive on the history of the labour movement.

His art is solid and bold, with a distinct style and characters. His colour palette is sparse, using shades of yellow contrasted with black and grays. It’s a beautiful choice that embodies the environment of the story as well as what transpires. The yellows begin as mirrored oceans, reflecting the long wheat seas of agrarian Alberta and the endless yellow of a dawn sky. It’s a serenely idyllic opening that soon changes, but the colour palette remains an effective choice despite what transpires.

It`s a quick read, but campfire ghost stories are quick to hear. What`s important is the emotion they instil: a moment of spookiness as you come to its conclusion before settling into a giggling unease for a few minutes. You`ll think about it for a few minutes, remember it with a smile for the night and then forget it all. For only five dollars this would be enough, but thankfully Mort Grimm isn`t something that you`ll forget. Fraser`s art will stick around in your memory and it makes me hope that he releases a second book, hopefully soon. For only $5, Mort Grimm is something very easy to recommend.