Monday, June 4, 2018

Escape the Cape Part 5 - Drama

This is the fifth article about comic books without superheroes.

Skin
Written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Brendan McCarthy & Carol Swain
I always enjoy authors who write unlikable protagonists, and the guy in this book is certainly no traditional hero. Not only is he a deformed Thalidomide baby (a real condition) but he's also a skinhead. Yeah... this is a book about a crippled neo nazi.

It sounds terrible, and it is. But the great thing is that the book portrays this guy as both a victim you naturally want to empathize with, as well as the most disgusting asshole that you would beat the shit out of... had he not been a cripple.

It plays tricks with your mind, and might even make you reconsider some of your values. And is that not the mark of genius?









Fashion Beast
Written by Alan Moore & Malcolm McLaren and illustraded by Antony Johnston  & Facundo Percio
Okay, so I know Alan Moore is recognized as one of the greatest comic book writers in the world, with his Watchmen being hailed as the most influential graphic novel of all time. But let me tell you a secret: I think he's quite overrated. Everything he does is so heavy and self-indulgent that I often find his books a bit tiresome to get through.

So it's not without reason that the only comic of his that I've ever really liked, is the one book he actually didn't write himself. Fashion Beast was apparently actually a movie script Moore wrote sometime in the 80s, and it wasn't until Malcolm McLaren adapted it to a comic book that it became published. And what a good thing that was, 'cause this thing is friggin awesome!

It has the feel of a Tim Burton movie, with clear similarities to Edward Scissorhands. The plot revolves not only around fashion, but also around who we are and how what we wear defines us. There's also a whole clusterfuck of twists that always keeps you guessing who's who.




Paying for It
Written and illustrated by Chester Brown
On the more controversial side of things, we have this little book which details the author's true experiences with prostitutes. Tired of having to deal with all the troubles of romantic relationships, he just decides to start paying for sex instead, and is all the more happy for it.

Naturally, this sparked quite a bit of protests, with some people calling the author all kinds of nasty things. However, anyone who actually sits down to read the book will have to admit that he does make quite a few excellent points. And if you don't agree with them, you are welcome to partake in an open discussion, which was just what the author intended.









Essex County
Written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Jeff Lemire is a favorite of mine (his Sweet Tooth being a must read for any comics fan) and Essex County was his first big hit.

It's classic drama in its truest sense, with fantastic characters that you really care about. They go through life with ups and downs, and I wouldn't be surprised if you found the pages smudged by a tear or two.

His illustrations have a distinct minimalist style, which fits perfectly with the icy setting of the Canadian Essex County. So if you're a winter person, then this is definitely one to pick up, especially if you also happen to be into hockey.









Lowlife
Written and illustrated by Ed Brubaker
Here's another auto-biographical work that will shake you with its honesty.

It's a coming of age tale about a pretty messed up kid who you probably once used to know. Maybe you went to school with him, or maybe he kept chasing you through the playground, or heck, maybe you played this part yourself. In some form or another, we all knew that one guy who always got in trouble and kept saying the most horrific things at the worst times.

In short: A lowlife.

The great thing is that the author doesn't try to make excuses or paint certain episodes with rosy colors. Instead, it's a true story about all the shoddy kids will do while still figuring out who the hell they are.







Heart
Written by Blair Butler and illustrated by Kevin Mellon
Anyone who's into MMA, UFC and all that jazz, will find something of a hidden gem in this book. It tells the story of an up and coming fighter who gives it all to become the best.

Kind of like an illustrated version of Rocky, the great thing is that the comic book goes way beyond the victories, and dives into the darker side of competing professionally. Accepting failure and learning to know your limits is something these Hollywood movies always likes to skip, but that also makes this book all the more interesting.










I've got one more article to write about comic books without superheroes, but it might take me a while to finish it because it will be the longest one. You veteran readers of this blog might have already guessed which genre it will explore ;)

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