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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/29/2005 Archived Entry: "Graphic Novel review: Mad Night"

Mad Night
by Richard Sala
Published Fantagraphics Books, Inc.

Review by Kathryn Ramage

Judy Drood, Girl Detective, is my new hero. This Nancy Drew wannabe may swear a blue streak when faced with a bizarre or dangerous situation, but she never loses her head and always manages to fend for herself in a crisis. She's always prepared for an emergency. As she explains to one of her would-be abductors after he returns to find her not so tied up as she was when he left her:

"You think I've never been tied up before? A couple of Houdini moves, a little wriggling and--bingo! I grab my trusty blade--which is always strapped to my thigh. You clowns don't know how to search girls, do you?"

Judy is the heroine in the black-and-white graphic novel (graphic in more ways than one!), Mad Night.* She attends college at a gothic-looking campus, where the student body seems to consist of a large number of busty young women, and a few geeky-looking guys. The faculty are grotesque, creepy, undead, or all of the above.

Students are being killed off in a series of grisly murders, to extract some glandular secretion from the neck of each for a life-prolonging serum. Judy is inadvertently drawn into the plot when her camera is stolen by pirates (The pirates are another collection of young ladies, all with flower names, led by a hand-puppet named Aunt Azalea--the puppeteer is unseen). In her efforts to retrieve her property, Judy finds herself in the midst of this macabre secret that lies at the heart of the campus history, dragging along her dweeby sort-of boyfriend, Kasper Keene every step of the way to the exciting denouement in the secret laboratory in the campus clocktower.

Mad Night has thrills, chills, laugh-out-loud moments, and a body count that I lost count of (let's just say you don't want to get too attached to any young lady besides Judy who appears in this tale).

*Previously published in serial form as "Reflections in a Glass Scorpion."

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