Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Sometimes he reads graphic novels. This is a review of one of them.
The Bozz Chronicles, written and created by David Michelinie and illustrated by Bret Blevins, came out on Marvel’s Epic Comics imprint in a 6 issue run over 1985 and 1986. In September Dover Publications are releasing all 6 issues of this paranormal detective caper in a single collection for the first time, including bonus artwork and introductions from Michelinie and Blevins, a foreword from Brandon Graham and afterword John Ridgeway.
The Bozz Chronicles takes place in Victorian London and centres around the Boswell and Flynn Detective Agency, run by Mandy Flynn, a former prostitute; Salem Hawkshaw, a Texan bare-knuckle boxer; and the titular character Bozz, an alien crash landed and stranded in Victorian London. Taking inspiration from E.T., this alien has instead given up on ever returning home, and being stuck on our backwards planet bores him so severely that he decides that suicide is is only way out. This is how Mandy finds him, attempting to end his life, so she starts to devote hers to preventing him from trying again. That is why she sets up the detective agency, purely to keep the brilliant mind of Bozz occupied and interested (and maybe taking her off the streets too). They take on the cases that Scotland Yard ignore – the weird, otherworldly or occult occurrences that people bring to them. Throughout the series they take on immortality, living paintings, lasers, demonic manifestations, time travel and crazed cults, which is a lot to cover in a six issue run!
It’s very impressive how Michelinie managed to create such a compelling world and cast of characters in just 6 issues (granted back in the 1980’s issues were a few pages longer…), smashing together elements of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, with an extra dash of melancholy into the mix. Bozz is a sad but brilliant soul, and his predilection for trying to take his own life seems entirely based on his own boredom, and a fear of being stuck in that boredom forever. Mandy is no-nonsense and streetwise, and has grown fond of this oddly shaped man from the stars, stopping at nothing to keep him busy. Out of the three Salem is the least fleshed out, with his background consisting largely of punching and making chilli (I wish my life was that simple), but even he is interesting and made me wish we got to see more of his back story.
The steampunk and more ethereal elements to the story are played up well with Bret Blevins art, showing a shadowy London with some strong facial work for the whole cast of characters, even Bozz who has features that lack detail but still manage to portray a sadness. The art really comes alive for the more fantastical elements, with the monsters in Book 2 terrifyingly realised. The break in the art in Book 4 with John Ridgeway doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetic at all, rather it gives a fresh perspective on the concept.
As I said before, despite the short run The Bozz Chronicles manages to cover an impressive array of genre themes. This is a great series, and a real shame that there are only 6 issues. There is huge potential for more stories in the Bozz world. This new collection is being released by Dover Publications on September 16th, so if a paranormal story starring an alien Sherlock Holmes sounds interesting (and it should) then pick it up then!