Writer: Dash Shaw
Artist: Dash Shaw
Colorist: Dash Shaw
Letterer: Dash Shaw
Cover Artist: Dash Shaw
Editor: David Hedgecock
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Perhaps one of the most successful board games to be adapted into other media, most notably the cult classic 1985 film, Clue has endured in a way lots of its rivals haven’t. With a simple murder mystery premise and stock characters who can easily be updated with the times — not to mention the game itself just being a whole lot of fun to play — Clue is rife with storytelling potential, even removing the interactive element. This week’s Clue: Candlestick #1 is another take on the franchise for its 70th anniversary, from cartoonist Dash Shaw.
The plot here is standard Clue. When Mr. Boddy (bet you didn’t know the murder victim in this game actually had a name!) assembles his usual cohorts for a fateful meeting, the proceedings quickly turn deadly. What makes this version of the Clue story different than others, though, is Dash Shaw’s unique lens (there’s also the fact that this Colonel Mustard is a gay man with a partner named Ketchup, which is transcendentally dumb, and I loved it).
One thing that’s immediately clear about Clue: Candlestick is how cartoony it is. Whereas IDW’s 2017 Clue title was fairly modern in style, Shaw’s cartoonish sensibility takes center stage here. One panel, for example, depicts a windy night as a giant mouth blowing into Professor Plum’s room. The lettering — also by Shaw — is very much in line with the kind you’d see in comic strips rather than mainstream comic books, with lots of white space in word balloons and occasional visual elements (e.g. arrows pointing at things) taking up the page.
Overall, this comic is very much in-line with something you’d more likely see published by Fantagraphics (of which Shaw is a veteran) than IDW. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to the reader. While this isn’t necessarily something I’d choose to read myself, I can appreciate Shaw’s strong authorial voice overcoming what could’ve been just another licensed comic book based on an existing IP. You can very easily imagine a version of Candlestick that isn’t connected to the Clue franchise with original characters just on the strength of Shaw’s voice alone.
Included as back matter here is an essay on the Clue franchise by Tim Hodler, which is a good read by itself, but it feels like padding to justify the issue’s $4.99 price tag. It’s superfluous but worth reading regardless.