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Dead High Yearbook

Review

Dead High Yearbook

edited by Ivan Velez, Jr.

DEAD HIGH YEARBOOK is pretty well disguised. With gold lettering and a faux leather cover, from the outside it looks a lot like any other high school yearbook. Until you notice the bloody fingerprints…

And, of course, as soon as you open its pages, you'll realize that DEAD HIGH YEARBOOK is something else entirely. A collaboration of more than a dozen graphic novelists and comic book artists (including ChrisCross, Jennifer Camper, Wilfred Santiago and Nicola Scott), the stories inside introduce readers to a small yearbook staff, putting together photos and stories for the year's graduating class. Instead of cheer squad and debate team, though, these students' stories are not exactly optimistic. You see, to graduate from Dead High, you have to be, well, dead.

There's Rowena, the spoiled mean girl whose desire for the perfect designer lapdog leads both her and her boyfriend down the road to demonic possession and a grisly death. There's Miguel and his buddies, who wind up with a nasty surprise after committing a brutal hate crime. Lisa takes a secret herbal supplement to lose weight, Jeff takes one to build muscle, and both of them get much more than they bargained for. A high-achieving student is determined to ace the SATs, no matter what deadly accident befalls her on the way to the exam.

These gruesome deaths, depicted in full comic book-style detail, are not for the squeamish. But horror movie fans will not be fazed and will likely relish the imaginative deaths befalling the unlucky kids. Not surprisingly, given the collaborative nature of the publication, the quality of the stories is a bit uneven. Some, like "Fan You So Very Much," have a little heavy-handed moral. "Have a Nicey Icee Last Day," about a particularly nasty love triangle, has a somewhat flimsy plot. Others, like the two-part zombie/vampire tale "What's Got Into Grandma?" / "Who Are You Having for Dinner?" are more ambitious, drawing together several different characters and storylines into a more fully-realized story arc that also manages to be pretty funny.

As an introduction to the horror-graphic novel format, or as a compilation for fans, though, DEAD HIGH YEARBOOK is a good choice. It's interesting to compare the different artists' and storytellers' styles, particularly to look at how various artists represent individual recurring characters. The book's sleek design and attention to detail make this one yearbook that graphic novel fans will relish.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 22, 2007

Dead High Yearbook
edited by Ivan Velez, Jr.

  • Publication Date: March 22, 2007
  • Genres: Horror, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
  • ISBN-10: 0525477837
  • ISBN-13: 9780525477839