This is the first of hopefully regular reviews of interesting and stand-out small press publications which i feel (in my infinite wisdom obviously) are deserved of comment and exposure. Feel free to contact me about sending something for review, but i can't promise if or when that will be.
So here is 'Eyeball Comix #1', which in the spirit of the underground comics of old, promises a heady mix of twisted horror, black humour, sex, depravity and shocking real-life tales.
For a first issue, this anthology shows promise. For my mind, there are two stand-out artists and stories. First up is Rob Amos with "The Treasure Of Slagg Rock"; an entertaining fantasy pirate story, which is the backdrop for a Zap Comix-esque depraved journey into the id.
The protagonist, a busty no-nonsense pirate woman, propositions two pervy sea-dogs to take her out to sea to find the fabled treasure of Slagg Rock. The qrotesque Captain (who looks like he's walked in from an S.Clay Wilson comic) dismisses the idea as folly, convinced that the old legend of the treasure and it's deadly giant underwater guardian, is just old witch-tales and rumour.
Nevertheless they agree to take her out to the rock, on the promise that the attractive piratess will "make it worth their while".
Without giving too much away, they do not get what they bargained for, and the strip decends into a banquet of grotesque bad taste; of sex, violence and bad puns.
Rob Amos' art is the main feature here; beautifully detailed and seemingly influenced by the work of S.Clay Wilson, Robert Crumb & Spain Rodriguez... Amos seems to enjoy drawing sexually dominant robust women, who have no quarms about cutting men down to size, and i'm not talking verbally here (his solo mini-comic 'Nicotine Alley' has similar themes). Not for everyone's taste, but as a lover of underground excess, trash and sleaze, i found it enjoyable.
The Second story I liked was 'Angel Dust - Assassin Of Youth' by the artist affectionately dubbed 'Paul Arserott'. This morbidly compelling tale documents the effects of the drug PCP, giving several examples of disturbing, horrific and rediculously stupid things people have done whilst under the influence of said drug, many of which were fatal... The stories seem just about believable, i presume they are, as opposed to urban myths. Who knows? Truth is stranger than fiction as the saying goes. Paul has a slightly cartoony but also somehow gritty and edgy style, a cross between punk album cover art, underground comics and perhaps even a touch of Mike Diana about him. He draws absurdity, and horror very well and in equal graphic portions, so that when I was reading the story, i went from thinking 'that's unpleasant' in one panel, to chuckling at the black humour in the next.
Other than that, there's a couple of nice filler pages by the above artists, and a passable story about a young woman's jealous love affair with a ghost (by Nuala Murphy), but the rest of the anthology i found mostly uninteresting and a little thrown together. That's just my opinion.
That said, i think that with tighter editing and more well written stories (preferably from the likes of Mr Amos and Mr Arserott), that Eyeball Comix will keep improving and help fill a much needed niche for contemporary UK underground comix.