Here you may download the complete story of Drake Ullingsworth and the Concrete Collapse, originally published in 2010.
All around him the city is apparently crumbling away; buildings falling down, homeless people roaming the streets and turning hostile, while his own Dog alternatively reprimands him or ignores him in a drug-addled haze. Drake the detective may or may not be investigating the cause of this urban disaster, following cryptic and confusing instructions relayed to him over the telephone in a public call box. He is led to a meeting with an old man and thinks he glimpses a machine that could be vibrating all the masonry until the infrastructure collapses. Drake also imagines he can see concealed assassins, shooting at dogs with rifles from high windows.
This horrible nightmare of a story is told two ways – as a prose story with full-page book illustrations, and then as a comic strip. The comic strip part is in fact a reworking, using collage and cut-ups and halftone overlays, of a much earlier version of the story called ‘Unnatural Disasters’ and published in Fast Fiction #11 in 1984. For some reason that escapes me, I replaced most of the original captions and word balloons with new text so that it might resemble a badly-translated movie with intrusive voiceovers. As for the prose version, that uses more recent drawings, and text that elaborates on the themes of the original short story.
Linking the two versions, we have interludes (drawn in grey halftones) that appear to be TV interviews conducted with Drake, and later with the Dog, by some unseen reporter. The assumption here is that the characters exist in real life and are called upon to recount their memories of the “concrete collapse” years after the fact. Naturally, their versions are unreliable, and we see Drake hesitate and stumble over his words, before walking off-camera when he has no more to say.
The result is a rather layered “meta-comic”, of sorts; full of conflicting truths and undermining linear narrative wherever possible. I was disappointed by the way the printing turned out at the time, but today I think the digital version looks and reads OK, and there are some nice moments. It’s an experiment, for sure; I rarely do illustrated prose stories, although I have recast a few Drake stories as prose, and this one seemed fitting for the character.
Can also be purchased as a print book from Lulu.com.