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Review by James W. Powell

Filler Review: Cover Image

Rick Spears
Rob G

AiT/Planet Lar
Softcover Original
Publish Date
April 27, 2005
Cover Price
This book kicks ass. It’s hard to put it in any other way. Writer Rick Spears and Artist Rob G have outdone themselves. Not only is Filler high-impact, it’s got style to spare. It’s dark. It’s violent. It looks cool. And god-forbid, it feels real. From page one I was immersed in the story so much that I could actually feel the weight of depression and smell the rank, stale air. You can’t ask for anything more than that.

John Dough is a nobody, and this feeling is conveyed immediately. Spears sets the tone early by capturing the slow moments that take up Dough’s daily routine. Dough makes his money by standing in police line-ups and selling his blood. He’s just one of those insignificant people in the background. He doesn’t even have a story, at least, not until he makes the mistake of getting involved with Debra, a hooker with a black eye and a sad story.

The key to this book’s success is certainly the set up. Without properly accessing the character’s emotional state, the power of the action that follows would certainly fall flat. Instead, I was so interested in Dough’s sorry life, it was as if I had been standing in that police line-up with him for years. So when he continues to make mistakes revolving around his feelings for Debra, every blow is more intense and ever shadow grows even darker.

Even more so, by quickly understanding Dough, I wasn’t immediately prepared for how the story unfolds. In most gritty dramas like this, you expect the main character to escape his troubles. He’s the good guy and he’s going to win out in the end. But will Dough? I had no idea if his life was just going to go from bad to worse, or if the events would actually elevate him. These questions truly made this a page turner.

Just like the first act of this book is well paced to get into Dough’s mindset, the final act is just as powerful, but here, it’s the hectic action that adds to the story’s tension. The key action scenes are so fast and they’re followed so closely after one another, that it’s impossible not to be riveted.

Filler Review: Interior ImageRob G uses his palette with expert skills in Filler. The images, which are black and white with spots of red, not only give the book stylistic grace, but they completely add to the story. The dark city truly towers over and around Dough, suppressing him and making his daily routine even more insignificant.

G’s use of dark, thick lines adds a certain weight to the story, not unlike the art of Sean Phillips. The art is heavy, which somehow brings credibility to the story. It’s real. It’s down to earth. Meanwhile, the use of red adds even more power. The spot color makes key elements of each panel jump of the page much more so than any black and white or color reproduction could handle.

In other words, G’s art is a perfect match for Spears’ gritty story.

Final Words

Filler really hits on all cylinders. The main character is immediately accessible, so when the action heats up, it’s an intense ride. The art and story blend perfectly. So if you’re into books that have a healthy dose of drama, mystery, and violence, Filler is highly recommended.

Highly Recommended

Other Rick Spears and Rob G reviews:
Teenagers from Mars

James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.
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