Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Review: Monty Comix #4 by Kayla Escobedo

What a great comic! Monty Comix #4 is another modern Underground Comix treat published by Dexter Cockburn's The Comix Company, and my introduction to Kayla Escobedo's work.

Kayla uses anthropomorphic characters ('Chiz' and 'Lil Whalegirl' being her stars) to tell stories that feel like they're based on real life, but with a slightly off-kilter, tweaked and surreal take.

The artwork is beautiful - full colour inks and fine-art style painting throughout, which works wonderfully in telling the stories.

There's a few single page comics, my fav of these is a true story about an investigation into a strange, foul odour coming from whalegirl's house.

The feature story however, is 'The Sleep-Over' starring lil' Whalegirl and her two friends.

The story starts at school and one of Whalegirl's friends is having a sleep over and invites her and another friend along.

Whalegirl's friend lives in a housing project with her mother.

After providing a dinner of pigs in blankets and salty chips, the mother goes to bed early, leaving the girls alone. They watch TV and talk about girls things.

Things suddenly change however, when Whalegirl's friend wants to show her pals the 'awesome channel' which she's discovered on cable.

The next few pages are conveyed brilliantly; with bizarre, exaggerated, grotesque images (which I found very funny), shown alongside the shock,embarrassment and uncomfortable expressions of the three friends who watch in silence as the images get more bizarre and explicit as they go (the image on the right is the first of these pages).

After this eye-opening sequence, the girls then go to bed, wide awake, and heads still reeling from what they have seen (apart from their friend who introduced them to this very adult world, who is shown sleeping calmly like a log).

The end of this story which takes place the next day, while still slightly comedic in tone, for me was somewhat tragic and revealing too. Despite the surreal sequences, Kayla creates an authentic and very matter of fact, yet sympathetic story.

It's this subtle and original story that really made Monty Comix #4 shine for me, and I really hope Escobedo keeps producing work of this quality.

You can get a copies of Monty Comix, and other great Undergrounds from: http://thecomixcompany.ecrater.com

Review: Cheap Laffs #1,2 & 3 by Nate Higley & Tavi Lux Veraldi (& Friends)

Some comics are done purely for fun and the artist's own amusement and that can give it an immediate, infectious appeal. Cheap Laffs started out as a comix jam between Nate Higley and Tavi Lux Veraldi, and they've kept the spirit of this playful spontaneity going throughout the 3 issues. Coming out of Ann Arbor, MI, with a production ethic somewhere between Underground Mini-Comix and punk zines, Cheap Laffs is great value and good gross-out fun .

The two sparring partners are a good double-act, occassionally appearing in the strips (and on the covers), depicting themselves in self-deprecating ways and highlighting their own twisted humour.

The comics have lots of influences running through them; everything from slapstick cartoon violence, horror film spoofs, surreal comedy, Japanese monster movies, to everyday lowlives behavingly badly.

Some of the comics remind me slightly of early Johnny Ryan or Evan Dorkin, or something out of a John Waters movie.

For a few examples, the comics include:

-A psychological horror spoof involving a crazed sadist and some terrorised chickens.

-Anthropomorphised artist tools fall prey to the x-acto knife

-A cavalcade of deviants introduce a first timer to 'Sex Pops'; an ice-lolly ad for the discerning perv.

-A middle-aged man doing something I never wanted to see with a Hello Kitty accessory

-A group of kid's getting a stomach-churning 'treat' they never bargained for on Halloween night.

My favourite strips however, feature a pair of trailer park metalhead ne'er-do-wells referred to only as 'Dude' & Brah'. These two keepers of the mullet make Beavis & Butthead look like Siskel & Ebert. Always on the look out for 'pelt' (or any makedo substitute), their strips follow their mis-adventures which include a mission to get tampons for mom, and getting dolled up in makeup and attempting to woo a Christian Metal chick, which spans a two-parter in issues 2 & 3 and has a very funny and rather nasty finale.

Higley & Veraldi also enlist the help of their friends/ guest artists Noelle Barby, Matt Hansen & Janet Nelson, for a few fun collaborations that work well. And issue #3 has a really nice illustration/ pin-up of one of the dude/brah characters by Nick Melody.

Also of note, issue #3 comes with a very cool attached flexi-disc record with 5 Ann Arbor punk & hardcore bands covering the same track “Make Babies Or Die Trying”. An accompanying comic by Steve Peterson & Josh-Redd Sanchez explains the origins of this song, and how it became a local comedic anthem with a cult following, and a tradition at local gigs.

At only $3 dollars for a record and a 20 page comic, this makes Cheap Laffs #3 a steal. And issues 1 & 2 are only a buck each (or trade) if they haven't sold out already.

To get your hands on a copy, email nicfitcomics@gmail.com before they run out.