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Trista and Holt #14

Review by Paul Bowler

April Fool’s Day is no joke in Trista and Holt #14, especially for Trista, as she’s been abducted by unknown criminal henchman and will soon discover the horrific secret of Black Sails – while Issy learns the truth about his father and Trista’s aunt Marcella. Meanwhile, the most clandestine proceedings unfold via the feline gaze and narration of Issy’s cat, Andred, in a sublime throwback to Japanese classic ‘I Am a Cat’ by Natsume Soseki.

Trista and Holt #14 is the penultimate issue of IF? Commix hardboiled, pulp noir, and dada inspired homage to the medieval story of Tristan and Iseult, spruced up with modern digital flourishes and infused with a crime-riddled blend of bullets, passion, and disco from Andrez Bengen, the writer / artist of Bullet Gal, Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat, Magpie, and the author of Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? The Trista and Holt IF? Commix series has recently been licensed to Project Nerd Publishing in the U.S., and is soon to become a novel as well.

TRISTA HOLT 14_COVER ART

Following the ambush at the Amusement Park, Trista is being driven by Geoffrey’s men along a dusty side road to Carhaix, her thoughts turn to the mysterious Norwegian who was gunned down as she was captured and what she learned from him. Andrez Bergen gets right under the skin of all the characters in this issue, keeping the tension simmering right from the outset, as Trista is delivered to Black Sails, before the scene – and narrative – is transplanted to the viewpoint of Tintagel’s feline resident; Andred the cat.

Bergen’s ingenious drawing of inspiration from Natsume Soseki’s satirical novel ‘I Am a Cat’ is a sublime masterstroke here. Intercut with Trista’s journey with her new friends, Andred cat’s-eye view of the world explores the shady dealings of Marcella and Isidor Holt SR’s insidious plots and machinations, and uncovers who has taken care of Trista for them and the horrific fate to which she is shortly to be condemned to. Andred’s journey through the house also gives witness to untold treasures, an unexpected meal, and eventually solace with Issy who is glued to the ambling, meaningless, and often mundane preamble of the monkey box.

The art for Trista and Holt #14 features some of the most stylish use of imagery and digital montages that Andrez Bergen has utilized so far during this IF? Commix series’ run. The digital cut-ups and collages are somewhat less prominent this issue, instead we have softer, less cluttered layout, with bolder imagery and splash pages which feel far more in keeping with the brooding and more sombre tone of this issue. With a dizzying opening monologue that spools out along a dusty back road, the brooding menace of Tintagel, to a world seen though Andred’s feline gaze, and the chilling realization of what awaits Trista in Black Sails sanatorium collectively adds up to make this issue one of the undoubted highlights of the entire series.

Space: 1999 will have to wait, when a newsflash and a telephone call brings the issue to a frightening and heartrending cliff-hanger… Andrez Bergen has excelled himself with this issue, as he brings all the threads of the saga together via a series of game-changing events, which ultimately sets the stage for the final issue. Trista and Holt #14 is a stylish, nerve-jangling, and mesmerising issue that leaves the main characters of this IF? Commix series in an extremely grim place as this tale of love, tragedy, and betrayal approaches its final issue.

Publisher: IF? Commix / Writer: Andrez Bergen / Art: Andrez Bergen

Trista & Holt #13 is available 1st March 2016 / Hard Copy $5 & Digital $1

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