Welcome to London Vol. 1
Creator/Writer/Art: Walter Ostlie
Editor: Jessica Badeaux
London has long been a popular haunt in comics for hauntings and supernatural escapades, from Dylan Dog to Hellblazer to The New Deadwardians. Shiver Bureau: Welcome to London is the latest addition to this canon, though Walter Ostlie’s creation, recently Kickstarted into print, skews younger and spunkier than those aforementioned titles.
Set in an alternate version of London pervaded by ghosts, the book centres on Inspectre Pickle, a dandy-ish ghostbuster extraordinaire. Pickle has come to the city in the thick of a particularly heavy period of spectral activity to take the reins of the Shiver Bureau, the organisation with a monopoly on ghost investigation and elimination. Joining forces with the cynical but incorruptible Trish and gentle giant (not literally, just a big sweet guy) Todd, Pickle and co must get to the bottom of “a shift in the cosmic status quo”, fighting supernatural critters, finding missing orphans, and battling corruption within the Bureau.
Shiver Bureau: Welcome to London is an eight-years-in-the-works labour of love and clocks in at 150+ pages, but never feels indulgent or outstays its welcome. It’s an engaging and relatively breezy read, and Pickle makes for a charming central protagonist: imagine if Doctor Who-era David Tennant played John Constantine and that should give you some idea of the character. Ostlie’s art style is an interesting mix, merging a very traditional Harry Potter-ish British milieu – old brick manors, cobblestone streets, industrial districts, Dickensian orphans – with hints of manga, Frank Miller’s Ronin, and even Eastman and Laird’s early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles work in its DIY dynamism and spunk. While his palette errs towards more muted tones, the colouring is vibrant throughout – particularly his use of mustard, purple, and spectral green – helping the images to pop. There are some minor errors in lettering, but in a self-published work such errors are negligible.
This first volume of Shiver Bureau comes brimming with extras that will appeal to those interested in the creative process and delving behind the scenes. On top of the comic itself, there’s nearly 40 pages worth of bonus content including character designs, concept art and drafts, pinups, and the earliest appearances in comic book form of Pickle and Todd, showing the development and refinement of the characters and concept over several endeavours. There’s also the complete comic reprinted in its original pencil form, colour and text-free.
Shiver Bureau can be purchased via Amazon.com or directly via Ostlie’s website: http://walterostlie.storenvy.com/