With February 14th now past us, the sickly smell of commercialised romance begins to clear. That is, apart from this review of the wonderful Blue Monday: Lovecats. That's right, folks; a Valentine's Day comic. To balance out all this romance, however, you lucky people also get a look in this week's Speech Bubble Burst at one of the most crazy comics on the market, The Metabarons.
Blue Monday: Lovecats
- Published by Oni Press, written and illustrated by Chynna Clugston-Major.
- £2.10 / $2.95
Blue Monday is an absolute delight. No, really. It's a rude, irreverent, acutely-observed and side-splittingly funny series about the lives and loves of a group of American high school students. There's Bleu (the Adam Ant-obsessed anglophile), Clover (the rough, tough punky Irish girl), Adam and Victor (the porn-collecting sex-mad adolescent boys) and Mr Bishop (the supply teacher that Bleu has a massive crush on), among others.
By turns painfully and hilariously familiar to anyone who has been a hormonal teenager, this series is the sort of comic that can be enjoyed by anyone with a suitably puerile sense of humour, which makes it perfect for lending to one's younger siblings or relatives, male or female. It's packed with devastatingly accurate insights into how teens act in all kinds of social situations (usually with over-enthusiasm or totally self-conscious embarrassment), though, so it isn't all 'knob gags' or toilet humour.
This particular edition was released to coincide with Valentine's Day, which is perfect plot-fodder for Blue Monday, bearing in mind that this book thrives on situations in which social humiliation and rude jokes go hand-in-hand. This issue centres around the odd couple of tomboyish Clover and boorish Victor, who conceal their mutual attraction behind bickering and wisecracks, as the gang prepare to go to a Valentine's Day dance.
Chynna Clugston-Major uses her distinctive art style to great effect here. She uses many of the conventions of Japanese manga comics, so the characters are wide-eyed and cute, and occasionally have little super-deformed1 asides in the margins. It is an ideal format for conveying the energy and emotions of teenagers, and provides an effective contrast to the adult humour of the dialogue.
Perhaps not the most cerebral comic ever created, but for people who enjoy reading about delightfully real-seeming characters and wickedly observed social situations, this is manna from heaven.
The Metabarons: Path Of The Warrior
- Published by Humanoids Associates, written by Alessandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Juan Gimenez.
- £14.99 / $19.95
Alessandro Jodorowsky is the sort of person you really wouldn't want sitting next to you on the tube. He speaks in riddles and allegories, and is notoriously intolerant of people who don't 'get' his creations. However, he is possibly in possession of one of the most fecund imaginations in comics today. Having made some brain-stretchingly odd films (the surreal pseudo-western El Topo springs to mind), he is now one of the foremost non-anglophone comic creators in the world.
This edition of Metabarons is the English translation of the first part of his bizarre, grandiose space opera set around the escapades of a clan of the most powerful warriors in the universe. It tells the story of how these Metabarons came to be such fearsome warriors, and features some utterly mad ideas like the lethal heir to this family being shot in the womb with an anti-gravity mineral, so he has to have metal feet to be able to walk properly without flying away.
Jodorowsky was at one point involved with a big-screen production of Frank Herbert's Dune; although that project foundered, it is clear that the source material made a big impression on him. Metabarons positively reeks of Dune homages and similar concepts, but this is not a criticism. There can be few better models for epic-scale space opera, afetr all.
Complementing Jodorowsky's mad ideas perfectly is the sumptuous art of Juan Gimenez, whose painted vistas and creatures possess a typically European sense of voluptuousness - everything is rich, full and 'curvy', somehow. Gimenez manages to instil every page with an insane amount of detail, which is a fundamental part of trying to make such a fantastic universe come alive.
Metabarons is highly recommended for anyone who enjoyed Dune or who enjoys reading any sort of crazy science-fiction, or anyone who is interested in seeing the cream of non-English comics creators in action. Highly recommended.
What To Look Out For This Week
- Essential Howard the Duck collected paperback - a gem of irreverent and funny fowl play from the archives
- The Establishment #6 - more crazy shenanigans in this Brit-themed sci-fi action comic, which seems to get better every week
- Cla$$ War #1 - indie Brit comic with provocative story and great art