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Archive Binge: Prague Race

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on April 29, 2017

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Prague Race is a gothic tinged portal fantasy that swings between comedy and the edge of horror on a page to page basis. Some of the inherent silliness of a fantastical setting is played up to the limit while the usually ignored dark side to those settings is never ignored. Whether it is the visceral reality of the lifecycle of trolls, the belligerent and misanthropic nature of a chicken that has been cursed to live as a man or the simple brutal cruelty of a promising life snatched away by a magical experiment gone awry.

The central trio of characters begin their lives in relative peace before making a wrong turn while exploring, leading them to a mysterious antique shop that is actually the front for a cross-dimensional smuggling ring. The shop’s owners seem like the obvious villains of the piece, particularly when they decide to massacre the protagonists rather than deal with the consequences of one of their sales but almost immediately the unique beauty of Prague Race’s storytelling begins to shine through.

Every character, no matter how gruesome their introduction or how nightmarish their actions, is treated with the utmost sympathy by the narrative. At the same rate that the positive traits of the monsters and villains are revealed, the central trio quickly show negative traits of their own, whether it is a casual disregard for the lives of their friends or a ceaseless propensity to whining about every change of circumstances.

The characters find more delight than horror in the fairy tale infused world that they are enveloped in. Every new development draws them out of their older, colder, more locked-down personalities, and into the more flamboyant selves that their new world accepts and, at least partially demands. It is a risk to be human in a world of witches and monsters, to the degree that any human that finds their way into it is advised to change their species by infection or magic as quickly as possible.

The way that the inherent dichotomies of the characters blend, the way that every character is constantly in flux as they grow and learn and the underlying sense of genuine connection between all of them adds a great deal of depth to a world that is by its very nature mysterious.

Because of the rapid tonal shifts throughout the story you might have expected Prague Race to suffer from issues of pacing but once again it surprises. The soft moments of the stories slow things down only for long enough for the emotion to connect before the next twist drags you back up to the regular pace.

The mysteries of the setting and story, in particular the barely touched upon mystery of the illusive Prague Race itself, fade quickly into the woodwork of the setting while the vibrant characters dominate. Just as each new development grants you new insights into the character’s histories and motivations, so does our perception of the world shift and skew as tiny details from their lives unleash much larger understandings.

Many parts of the story touch upon the tropes and themes of the genres running adjacent to Prague Race, but none of them are delivered without a twist or introspection. Thanks to this commitment to uniqueness, although it is slow to start, this comic offers an experience that you will not find anywhere else.

G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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