George Wylesol’s previous book with Avery Hill, Ghost Etc. was a fascinating mix of three stories about the supernatural. This latest offering is both a much more coherent central story, but told in a completely out of this world scenario.
Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Writer: George Wylesole
Artist: George Wylesole
Price: £14.99 from averyhillpublishing.bigcartel.com
Internet Crusader begins with a series of screenshots from a 90s computer desktop screen, which Wylesole has drawn out meticulously. It’s packed full of pop up ads and chat screens and vintage computer program icons which will make geeks of a certain age swell with nostalgia. As you proceed through these early pages and take in the details you being to notice a chat transcript which is going on in the background. It’s the usual kind of 90s high school bants (buying porn on your Dad’s credit card etc.), that soon develops into something more unseemly.
As one of our chatters starts talking to a ‘sex freak’ who IMs him, he downloads a virus instead of the porn he thinks he is getting, and his computer begins to get taken over by messages from The Church of the Holy Light. But as this virus takes over this computer, the chat becomes darker as we get glimpses of things happening in the real world, like one of the chatter’s going missing or another’s family disappearing. As the story develops he ultimately gets challenged to a role playing game in order to save his family, and the final third of story is played out in this Doom style first person shooter cum role playing adventure.
There’s no denying, Internet Crusader is an incredibly ambitious and complex story, which is told in a completely unique and unconventional way. It’s not always an easy read, thanks to the unconventional method of dialogue and way that it tells the story without visualizing it’s characters. The pages are in fact, quite over whelming in places with layers of detail that beggar belief, and with the narrative only being played out in a small percentage of the page – i.e. i the chat window, or within the subject fields of a dozen spam emails. This get even more intense when the virus, hits and takes over the screen while the mid issue video game is a brilliant mix of vintage visuals and much simpler more recognisable images and works as a nice break from the desktop based style of the majority of the book.
For those who grew up in the late 90s, Internet Crusader is packed full of detail and in jokes which will have you smirking and smiling along with the story. Wylesole parodies everything from IM etiquette to spammers to internet dial up which times you out after a certain period (which he uses as brilliant chapter break technique). However those for whom the late 90s were not spent hunched over a keyboard in IM chat session, this book may lack a certain appeal and the style and detail could be lost on them as the story is a bit of a head trip for the uninitiated!
We often talk about books warranting multiple readings to really get the most out of them but in Internet Crusader’s case it is very much true, as chance are you won’t really get to grips with the story until half way through and so revisiting those early pages is essential in order to make sense of what is going on.
Internet Crusader is a fantastically complex and uniquely original read, that really pushes the boundaries of sequential story telling and will make you never want to talk to a mystery IMmer again!