February 11, 2011

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The Brewmaster's Castle

Written by Matt Dembicki
Illustrated by Andrew Cohen
Self-Published

Tucked into a section of the District of Columbia that's probably better known for it Embassies is a mansion that was once home to an aging brewer named Christian Heurich. The mansion still stands, but the man, of course, has long since passed on. This is the story, fictional of course, of what that man might have been thinking on the last day he was a part of...the Brewmaster's Castle.

The subject matter of this mini is extremely specific, as you might expect. Had it not been written by one of my favorite mini-comic creators, Matt Dembicki, I probably wouldn't have grabbed it. It's clear that Dembicki has done his research on this subject, and his co-creator on this one, Andrew Cohen, definitely does a nice job of making the interiors of the comic resemble the insides of an old mansion and mirror the things you can find in the house today.

If you have an interest in the history of beer brewing in this country, than this mini is definitely going to be of interest to you. The appeal, however, is lessened if you're not strongly attached t the subject material. I liked the idea of Heurich touring his home one last time, thinking about all that happened within its walls. That was a great way to actually give a historical context to the comic without turning it into a historical pamphlet. Still, I'm not sure if there's an audience for this one outside of fans of Dembicki or those who are interested in brewing.

I think the most interesting thing about this mini is its shape. Dembicki opted for a tall legal size, with each page having three square panels about the size of a quarter-page zine. Cohen mostly uses this space for that purpose, but occasionally we get a spread page that is tall and narrow, a pretty cool effect that you don't often get to see. Cohen's use of black and while imagery is pretty cool overall here, and I'll definitely have to look into more of his work in the future.

The Brewmaster's Castle is a quality specialty work. If you like the history of breweries or know someone who does, this would make a nice (and unexpected) gift for them. It's a bit too narrow in subject to get a general recommendation, but the right person will definitely dig this a lot. I can't wait to see what Dembicki is up to next. His minis are always varied, and are always of a high quality. He's definitely an artist to follow for fans of the mini-comic genre.