Written By: Rich Bernatovech
Art By: Teyo
Published by: Drumfish Productions
In this episode of Sequential Thoughts, I shed light on a fantastic new graphic novel that ended my comic book year on a great note, BUGGED.
I quickly became a fan of Rich Bernatovech since being introduced to his epic, multi-generational series of graphic novels about a super-hero team called SENTINELS. It was easy to see that this writer had great potential to tell straight forward, satisfying stories that addressed larger issues under the surface. My admiration for his work has continued with his new ongoing series NEVERMINDS, and now I get the unexpected surprise of yet another graphic novel from his fertile imagination.
BUGGED tells the story of Felix Herbert, a kid who has been stepped on by life, until all of a sudden he meets a cockroach who can talk to him. The roach reveals a power inside of him he didn’t know he had...namely, seeing peoples’ past sins when looking at them. The roach convinces him that he has to use this power to start righting all of the wrongs in the world and Felix’ life changes forever from that moment on. Revealing any more than this would certainly ruin the story, so I will let you discover this wonderful book for yourself and ride through the twists and turns.
I will tell you that the writing is straightforward, the dialogue flows in a very realistic way, and it felt to me like I was reading a great short film on paper. Of course, the medium of comics has the ability to raise a story like this to another level than would normally be done in film, and Bernatovech and Teyo achieve that here. There is a Serling-esque feeling to the story, giving it a creepy tension that was inherent in the best Twilight Zone episodes. It also plays with the conventions of “hero” and “villain” in a disturbing, but ultimately very satisfying way. The book was impossible to put down because I really wanted to see how it all played out, but like most good fiction, after I finished, larger questions began to raise to the surface of my mind and made me think about the gray areas of life. How do we really see people? Are we too quick to judge each other? How easily can the frustrations in our lives make us vulnerable to manipulation? If you're anything like me, the story will give you an immediate charge, and then a lot to think about days after you close the book.
Whether it is by good judgement, good luck, or a dose of both, Bernatovech has managed to collaborate with artists who are ideal for the particular tone of his stories, and now he’s three for three. The art by Facundo Teyo reflects the mood of the story very well. It has a rough, raw and sometimes surrealistic quality to it that evokes all the right emotions while punching up all of the story beats to maximum impact. Stylistically, Teyo’s work reminds me of a mix of artistic influences like Miller/Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Paul Azaceta, but with its own very unique qualities as well. I can’t see his work being a good match for straightforward super-hero fare, but for more realistic, moody pieces like this...perfect.
As with all independent books, this one could be challenging to find in your local comic shop, but it is definitely worth going the extra mile to seek out. You can order a copy online at:
...and while you’re at it, check out the other Drumfish Productions books. They are all worth the price of admission!