‘The Dregs’ looks at the terrifying scale of the Downtown Eastside overdose epidemic and the shitty indifference the neighbourhood’s street homeless face.
It's hard to imagine the opioid crisis in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside getting deadlier than it was in 2016, though that's exactly what some experts are predicting. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency calls later, local morgues are at capacity and the overdoses aren't stopping.
From the news we get the story of a neighbourhood under siege, and of health authorities reluctantly trying to clean up a mess. What we don't often get is how much humanity and strength it takes on the part of street-entrenched homeless people to support each other in the face of so much death and indifference.
I don't think comic creators Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler [full disclosure: both guys have written for VICE Canada] realized how terrifyingly on-the-nose their four-part miniseries The Dregs would become when they started writing more than a year ago. Even before the province declared a public health emergency, they set out to show the erasure of poor people from the streets at the hands of gentrification and a powerful new drug.
Just yesterday we learned drug overdoses killed a record-breaking 128 people in BC last month. When reality is this grim, sometimes it takes a brutal tale of lost friendship and cannibalism to help make sense of it.
Ahead of the comic's January release, VICE previews a few pages of the story.
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Pre-order The Dregs here.