Meerkuts’ Monthly Musings – May 2013

Hello Comic Connoisseurs!

Another month has passed and we’ve had reviews of Justice League of America No 1. as well as incredible superhero cosplay images from Free Comic Book Day to sate your DCC desires. We’ve had Robert Downey Jr. punching, thinking and quipping his way through another Marvel movie, Iron Man 3, as well as more X Men: Days of Future Past and Marvel: Phase 2 teasers than you can shake a mutant genomed stick at! I’m here to sail the DCC ship into less charted waters each month, providing information and my own two cents on titles from smaller, independent publishers or self-published gems like our own Frogman. So open your minds and join me as we leave the superheroes to their homo-eroticism and Hollywood to eat its own tail, we’re going to the other side!

1. Pachyderme by Frederik Peeters (Published by SelfMadeHero Comics)

Pachyderme - Frederik Peeters (SelfMadeHero)

Pachyderme – Frederik Peeters (SelfMadeHero)

Let me just say first off, I’ve only read this once and I know for a fact there’s going to be so much more to discover on subsequent reads. From the moment you pick up this book, with that striking and yet somehow disturbing cover, you sense this isn’t going to be your average character journey with a morality tale at the end. The unknown female character suspended slightly above the tarmac about to collide with apathetic asphalt on a vast, lonely road was for me immediately captivating but I couldn’t guess what was to await me inside. This is a comic book that delights in its medium. Striking images, incredibly detailed lines, a specific palette, dynamic characters and a very descriptive style combined with sparse yet sprawling dialogue mean this comic is simultaneously engrossing as well as threatening. The legendary Moebius states in his introduction,

“Pachyderme is the perfect example of a vivid and poetic graphic novel that succeeds in conveying a sense of the unconscious, of true mystery.”

Moebius also picks up on the similarities to David Lynch, that’s definitely what I felt on first reading of this comic, a real synergy with films like ‘Mulholland Drive’ or ‘Twin Peaks’ where the lines between reality and the unconscious are so expertly blurred without becoming a parody of themselves. Peeters manages this through a very strong style all the way through as well as expertly creating a world where, aside from some more overt imagery, everything is grounded in the real world. For every nipple on a wall or alien-like foetus walking in the woods there are moments of clarity on the page to suggest the dream is or isn’t real like when we see the surreal image of an elephant lying in a road offset by traffic cones providing the day-to-day humdrum of such an image. There are huge amounts of subtext surrounding Europe in the middle of the 20th Century as well as more personal issues being dealt with through the main character but the mysterious characters and sense of unease ensure you’re kept guessing throughout. An enjoyable read where the resolution provides enough answers to make the book an enjoyable one-off, but like so much of Lynch’s catalogue, the real pay off will be with repeat readings.


2. Prison Pit – Jonny Ryan (Published by Fantagraphic Books)

You can love your romantic evenings with a partner, you can love your emotional songs from your childhood, you can love the lyrics of Morrissey and you can love your Mum and Dad but not in the way you love your best friends. You know the one’s I’m talking about. The one’s you got up to naughty shit with, the one’s who your parents thought were a bad influence on you, the one’s you know who’ll force you to have another shot or line of whatever and the one’s you stayed up all night with watching bizarrely hilarious YouTube videos before falling asleep with roll up cigarettes still smoldering between your lips!

Base but Brilliant! Prison Pit by Jonny Ryan (Fantagraphics Books)

Base but Brilliant! Prison Pit by Jonny Ryan (Fantagraphics Books)

This is what Passion Pit by Jonny Ryan is like. It’s so extremely excessive in its hilarity it draws stifled belly laughs from your gut on packed trains as parents and politicians glance witheringly at images of monsters shitting themselves, ghouls eviscerating ghouls or ‘BloodHead’ decapitating people in amusingly gory scenes!  It’s all so… what’s the word? Base. I mean that with all positive respect, it’s not concerned with narrative devices, there are no hipster in-jokes from Canada and definitely no retconning history issues, no multiple earth plot-holes, no crossover events and absolutely NO metaphors or morale high grounds! This is just a plain fun, grotesque, puerile action comics from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong we need highbrow comics, we need our superhero universes & we need our comic book journalism but we also need our comics that cater to the silly, unashamed and most of all adult sides of us too. There are currently 4 issues of Prison Pit which I highly recommend and a new one out later this year and in an age when we’ve got more X Men titles than people on the planet it’s refreshing to just have a comic book that’s all about entertainment!

3. Goliath – Tom Gauld (Published by Drawn & Quarterly Comics)

Excerpt from 'Goliath' by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

Excerpt from ‘Goliath’ by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

This comic has a dryer wit than the love-child of Steve Wright, Jack Dee & John Cleese all rutting in the middle of a desert on a bed of silica gel sachets whilst drinking salt! Now I’m not the biggest fan of deadpan, dry wit from a standup comedian but boy does it work in the comic medium especially when deconstructing a famous parable from the bible. Tom Gauld is a cartoonist who you may have seen in The Guardian who has a very distinct style and a lovely way of characterising his figures with minimal details but maximum emotion. I’m not sure if this story started out as a short six panel daily but I was really happy that it wasn’t and that his wry take on the biblical tale of ‘David & Goliath’ was allowed a full book within which to breathe. Suffice to say most people will know the tale of the giant Goliath of Gath against the small shepherd boy David but this time we see the holy allegory from the Philistine’s point of view instead from the side of the big G. A lesser cartoonist could have taken this at face value but what Gauld does is inject the whole affair with such deadpan humour and amusing asides as well as a true empathy for the titular character that it never feels like the idea has been drawn out.  The illustrations are sublime and the muted colouring just adds to the themes and feelings of the story and the contemporary dialogue concerning admin work, bear fights & war is hilarious as well as giving the parable a complete twist in our secular society this century. A gorgeous looking and wonderfully amusing take on a classic tale, I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Mr. Gauld’s books after this!

Well that’s another month of independent illustrations for you to get your gnashers sunk into, I’d love to hear your opinions on any of the books I’ve covered or if you have a self-published comic you’d like Dead Canary to feature then get in touch on the comments below. Until next month people,



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