- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: First Second; First Edition edition (July 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159643421X
- ISBN-13: 978-1596434219
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wrenchies Paperback – July 15, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—In the far future, demonic Shadowsmen rule over a grim wasteland. They inflict adults with despair, corrupting them into zombies—or worse. Bands of fierce, foul-mouthed children fight against this oppression, and the Wrenchies are the greatest of these gangs. An ancient and arcane comic book creates a portal between our time and this bleak future, allowing a lonely outsider named Hollis to join the Wrenchies on their crusade. Together they embark on a quest to destroy the source of the world's corruption. Kind, sensitive Hollis feels out of his depth, not born to battle like the rest of the gang. He wrestles with his hopes and fears for the future. Readers will connect with his need for belonging and delight in the acceptance he finds among the Wrenchies. The plot unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness, reality blending with dreams, mystical visions, and drug-induced hallucinations. Dalrymple's art vibrates with violent action, awash in colors alternately lush and lurid. His masterfully detailed panels reward careful study, from devilish grotesqueries to intricate architectural cutaways. With its abundant violence, profanity, and drug use, The Wrenchies is not for the squeamish, but offers breathtaking adventure for those with a strong heart and a stronger stomach.—Tony Hirt, Hennepin County Library, MN
“Readers immediately enter a world where epic violence is the norm, science fiction tropes abound, and kids may save one of a few different times/world - if they aren't murdered first . . . Fans of Rapp's Ball Peen Hammer will be equally enthralled by this nightmarish but impeccably rendered look at a few overlapping world and the kids who seem doomed despite their efforts.” ―BCCB
“*Dalrymple takes a deep affection for comics and role-playing games and a deep distrust for adulthood itself and combines the two in an offering unlike anything else in the field today. For a certain demographic of angry, alienated, and demoralized older teens, this graphic novel will resonate powerfully . . . as vibrant and disturing as if David Lynch directed The Goonies.” ―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“*The Wrenchies introduces readers to a twisted futuristic world filled with nonstop action, a bit of magic, and graphic battles against gruesome monsters, brought to life with Dalrymple's complex full-color art . . . a high-quality, original graphic novel.” ―VOYA, STARRED REVIEW
“Dalrymple's art vibrates with violent action, awash in colors alternately lush and lurid . . . With its abundant violence, profanity, and drug use, The Wrenchies is not for the squeamish, but offers breathtaking adventure for those with a strong heart and a stronger stomach.” ―School Library Journal
“Dalrymple's art is impeccable . . . It's beautiful, dreamy and nightmarishly violent . . . Not for the faint of heart, but what a ride for those who go with the flow.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Incredible. A deeply personal epic…a book that calls for rereadings.” ―Craig Thompson
“AMAZING. Beautiful drawing and painting, great characters--it's pretty much everything I could want a graphic novel to be.” ―Mike Mignola, author of Hellboy
“I've been a very enthusiastic admirer of Farel Dalrymple from the first moment I was introduced to his wonderful work. Now here comes his most epic work with The Wrenchies! This book is a stunning and original piece of work. The characters are richly authentic and their world is simultaneously exciting and horrific, filled with hauntingly beautiful detail. The Wrenchies is a masterpiece that will knock your socks off!” ―Michael Allred, Madman
“Tremendously masterful, as to be expected of Farel Dalrymple. A work of art with fevered imagination and lush nightmares that should haunt every reader.” ―JH Williams III (Sandman, Batwoman, Promethea)
“The years of love dumped into The Wrenchies is apparent on every page, every panel a work of high art. Lush worlds and fascinating characters drenched in originality and childhood nostalgia. The story is heartfelt, wildly imaginative and engrossing as Farel achieves something all too often lost in comics--pure fun. The Wrenchies is a game changer. I couldn't love anything more. ” ―Rick Remender (Black Science, Deadly Class)
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The Wrenchies is a sprawling quest novel in comic book form. I knew zero about the plot going in and so I'm not going to taint anyone else's reading experience by spilling the beans. Suffice to say that it is a very dark science fiction story about adolescence, and how the problems of adolescence can stick with you long after it's supposedly passed.
There is an almost Perdido Street Station number of concepts at play in this book. And because the story takes its time, I was never really certain where it was headed (by which I mean I experienced a constant series of revelations rather than a sense of bewilderment). It moves from battles, to conversation, to extended meditations on childhood loneliness and religion's capacity to terrify children. I feel like The Wrenchies is a distillation of every bit of pop culture Dalrymple has ever absorbed. After one read I picked up subtle nods to Adventure Time, Lord of the Flies, The Warriors, Superhero comics, Tablet Top roleplaying games, maybe even The Wrath of Khan. But The Wrenchies doesn't feel like any of those things. Those things form its vocabulary, but's it's very much its own fever dream of weird, dark, beautiful science fiction.
The art, like the story, feels like it comes direct from the heart. It has immediacy and deep, deep emotion. It's gritty, not polished—a cleaner line would have no place in the decaying world the Wrenchies inhabit. The art is full bleed which makes for a lot of movement on the page, but sometimes it disappears into the gutter. Nothing is lost, but the way Dalrymple draws gives you the feeling that there's always more to see. And you want to see it.
Once all the pieces began to connect, I slowed down my reading and studied each page. I wanted to remain in it as long as I could. I began to feel very connected to certain characters as embodying aspects of myself (always the case when characters feel real). The resolutions of the final chapter began to feel like knots untying in my brain, putting some of my own thoughts into perspective. In fact, the final bit of epilogue between Sherwood and Marsi put it right there on the page for me.
A bit much to put on a comic book perhaps. But if a story doesn't have something to say about life, why read it?
TL;DR The Wrenchies is full of awesome art, sweet battle scenes, cool monsters, and strong characters. Buy it and read it and think about it.
I loved the art. It's both gorgeous and grotesque and, often, both. The line work and water colors are definitely nothing short of fantastic.
There are also elements of the book that astounded me. The world is unique and wholly interesting. The characters are bizarre and intriguing. And the plot is a bizarre mystery/adventure/fantasy/drama.
There isn't enough of the above. The world is never fully explored--or understood to the level that seemed necessary for the story. The characters are often gone before we ever truly get to know them, and even the ones we DO get to know are hard to feel for. And much as the genre mashup works, it becomes a bit TOO much, too muddled in its own ambitions and scope.
In the end, I did enjoy much of it. But always, always, there was a voice in the back of mind thinking, "This could be so much more than it is... And it's so close." And to me, that missed potential is even more heartbreaking than simply being problematic in the first place.
Look at those faces! Simultaneously grotesque and looking just like ordinary boys we've all seen. All of this is very distinctively Dalrymple: The painterly but (mostly) desaturated colors, the crows, the characters who look as if they might be ill, the gorgeously rendered world. He's pretty and ugly at the same time, and that's a neat trick to pull off.