Sex. Violence. Mafia. Guns. Lust. God. Naked chicks. Cussing.
Which of these doesn't belong? In the view of most other creative types, it would be God. And that's what makes Doug TenNapel different than any other writer around today. While some criticize Doug's insertion of a decidedly Judeo Christian God into his works of fiction, I find it the most compelling element to his work. After all, long gone are the days where artists invited God into their art. Now the god stuff is left to propagandists, while the artists skirt the issue in any manner of disingenuous ways. As such, some of our most talented filmmakers (read: everyone but Mel Gibson) treat God as an ex porn star. Sure he's hot, but can anyone risk headlining him in his or her act, after all, who wants to offend. Never mind the fact that, as Doug states in his forward to the book, 80% of Americans profess to be Christian, and 90% believe in God, the higher ups still manage to believe God is damaged goods, box office be damned. There are few who see the folly in this belief, and fewer still that have the talent to do anything about it.
Thank God for Doug.
Black Cherry is the best kind of book, because a bold and fearless author stands behind it. It will offend, it will perturb, it will jar, but it will never insult because its characters are true, and real, and messy, just like you and me. So, if you've got a sense of humor, if you're a romantic, if you're an action guy, a Sopranos Fan, a fan of pulp, or have ever stepped foot inside a strip bar, or have wanted to, this book it for you. It's full of pulp, and violence, but it still manages a heart that you'll recognize as distinctly TenNapel. Its characters are lovably flawed and truly drawn. Its plot is like nothing you've ever experienced, a mishmash of so many seemingly incongruous genres that you have to tip your hat to Doug purely for his courage and his one of a kind voice.
I won't recap plot, you can read that above, but I can promise that this is some of TenNapel's best work, and like all his best stuff, it reads like a film more than a comic. His talent for capturing kinetic motion plays out in some memorable fight scenes (not since Indiana Jones has a hero been so severely beaten and abused.) The dialogue is the biggest departure for TenNapel, but you still get the great zingers he seems to relish so much. As to the faith, it's ironic that first R rated piece just happens to be his most fully realized in terms of explorations of sin, faith and redemption.
Reading Doug's books, you can't help but feel you know the guy. His characters are so open, honest and raw you can't help but feel you've been invited into his living room as he playfully spins his inventive yarns. Reading Black Cherry is a little more like meeting up with him at a bar. His story is a little more crass, revealing corners of his personality heretofore unseen, and the laughs come easy.
Let me close with this. Christians who are easily offended, stay away. This will crush your pious sensibilities. Christians who aren't afraid of an f-bomb and a set of D breasts here and there, this story will rock your world and deepen your understanding of who exactly god came to save.
For the rest of you, I don't blame you for pissing all over most Christian artists; most don't deserve your hard earned buck. But if you deny this piece because it's got God in it, then you're missing out on a one of a kind voice and that's a shame.