Apocalypse Now Nowby Charlie Human
For most, the years spent trying to survive at school are best forgotten - particularly if you were overly familiar with regular bouts of wet willies, wedgies and swirlies, all whilst sweating in awkwardly-fitting uniforms made of stiff polyester.
As it transpires it could have been a lot worse, especially if you were unlucky enough to attend the same school that Baxter Zevcenko went to.
Baxter is 16 years old and a student at Westridge in Cape Town, South Africa. He isn't one of the regular grunts of the school: he is head of the Spiders, one of the key gangs that run the school. Their specialty is supplying the whole spectrum of porn to the impressionable minds of Westridge.
One of his biggest concerns is attempting to merge with another gang, but all these matters go out of the window when his girlfriend Esme disappears without a word. Although troubling, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as worrying if it wasn't for the fact that a serial killer known as the Mountain Killer - who has already claimed twelve lives to date - is on the loose.
It doesn't take him long to come to the conclusion that it's highly unlikely that he will find Esme on his own so he teams up with Jackie Ronin, who sells his services as a herbalist and supernatural bounty hunter. It's at this point that things start to get a little strange. Well, really strange.
Ronin opens up a weird and wicked world the likes of which Baxter has never seen, full of dark and deadly creatures. Baxter doesn't know what's more worrying – the fact that such a depraved and evil underbelly exists under their noses, or that he actually fits in pretty well.
Of course, there's a chance - as his therapist suggests - that this world only exists in Baxter's warped imagination. But then again...
Delving into the world of Human's main protagonist Baxter is nothing short of a riotously riveting journey. Human is clearly a fan of fantastical fiction, if his many knowing cultural nods are anything to go by. On top of that, fans of the likes of Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams will find the bizarre world Human creates like an eerily familiar homecoming. It's wonderfully warped yet stuck together with a great, albeit dark, sense of humour.
In fact what Human has managed to produce is a beautifully constructed graphic novel, but one with all the pictures taken out. But with his obvious talent for painting a scene with words, they're not missed in the slightest. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that this story is his debut effort.
It's a truly magical, mystical adventure that will have you glued to Baxter's side from beginning to end. And although Human's debut title gets off to a deliberately bleak start, his career has anything but.