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Burger #1 (review)

Writer: Ben Canny

Artist: Gourkloum

Running Ground Studios, 2022

“It is a story about happiness,” promises a dialogue box on the first page, the line delivered by a sombre young man in a hoodie. It starts with a dare: a boy eats roadkill, and acquires the nickname “burger”. The boy is haunted by dreams for the rest of his life, and the headaches. A disconnection from fun, release, and human contact is a serious mental health issue. You cannot help but feel sorry for Burger. It is a grim existence, as if he is trapped behind plastic, a passive observer of human life.

The story starts off as poignant, shot with the horror of the feed, and otherwise conveys a grinding undertone. This is assisted by Gourkloum’s wonderful art. Burger’s perspective on people is conveyed through the art. The landscape is littered with crowds, mindlessly effervescent, wild-eyed, confrontational, and lacking personal space. Burger see people as a mocking crush.

Halfway though the story we have a pivot, and the question: who is the Master? is this is figment of Burger’s imagination? Of, with the Master’s suggestion that Burger cannot pronounce his true name, is there something more alien afoot?

Some of the lines are startlingly cynical. “Wait… am I dead? Typical,” says Burger at one point. That cynicism descends into deep black humour, reserved for the observant reader: the pizza deliver guy wears a motorcycle helmet that renders him faceless to Burger during the accidental delivery. We expect something disgusting to manifest out the pizza, given burger’s appetites, and we are blindsided by the sudden, horrible events that follow.

This is the promotional copy:

When a lonely and incredibly angry young man learns he has months to live, he begins an irreversible descent into madness, convinced by his friendly resident brain slug that he can adopt other people’s personas by harvesting and wearing their faces. When a washed out alcoholic homicide detective decides to get involved in a desperate bid for her redemption… chaos ensues.

BURGER  is a psychological, psychedelic, body horror miniseries in 6 chapters that explores themes of toxic masculinity, mortality, entitlement, conspiracy, obsession, addiction, redemption, memory, consumption and the insipid unending digital cacophony.

This is horror upgraded for our times. If Lynch, Cronenberg, Junji Ito and Burroughs had a below average IQ love child then it might look a little like BURGER. This is a gruesome, at times darkly humorous psychodrama – not for the fainthearted.

The creators’ Kickstarter campaign, using motion picture classifications, rates the story as “M”. But this is in reality a solid “R”. Burger is Anglo-Russian ketamine for those who are cavalier about their peace of mind. As horror goes, Gourkloum have delivered a brilliant, startling first issue. The Kickstarter campaign, which started on 29 April 2022, is located here: