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The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood is an ongoing series at Thrillbent. (For those unfamiliar with the semi-recently created website, Thrillbent is a digital comics site created by comics writer Mark Waid and television writer/producer John Rogers )The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood is written by Christina Blanch (of recent Gender through Comic Books MOOC fame) and Chris Carr with art by Chee.
As a comic that has been designed specifically for digital consumption, the reading experience of The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood is fantastic. Panels pop up in the order they are meant to be read, boxes and panels appear to draw your attention to things, and everything is always properly sized and readable. It’s everything reading a comic on the web should be. The closest I’ve come to this experience before is reading things through the Comixology app on my tiny iPhone.
Shock and awe for the readability of the comic aside, the Damnation of Charlie Wormwood centers itself around the character of Charlie, a man with a sick son who teaches at a local prison. While teaching about the moral lesson of The Count of Monte Cristo, Wormwood himself is placed into the shoes of Edmund Dantes (or Walter White). Does he succumb to temptation in an attempt to pay his sons medical bills (and possibly lose everything he hopes and loves in the process) or does he remain destitute, with only the love of his wife and deathly ill child to comfort him?
The explicit relationship between Edmund Dantes and Charlie Wormwood is made clear throughout the first issue. Blanch and Carr do a superb job of making this connection without beating the reader over the head with it. Though the literary references may not be something everyone enjoys, it is coupled with the comments and criticisms of the convicts that Wormwood teaches and brings both comic relief and reality to the issue. The black and white art is a fantastic addition to the title, whose titular character attempts to navigate between right and wrong. There is also a touch of irony in having the comic in black and white while Charlie swims around in a morally grey area.
This is a smart and fast read that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys literary references strewn about their comics, and also those that love watching characters moral quandaries. However, since it is free to read at Thrillbent, mosey on over and check it out for yourself!