rockstar Pizza (2006)

Editor Jason Franks
Publisher Blackglass Press
Writers Jason Franks
Art and Colours Michael Athey, Jason Franks,Carlen Lavigne, Richard Gaines
Genre Collection

Talk us through it

rockstar Pizza comprises four stories from the mind of Jason Franks, each of the stories having a different illustrator. We range across some pretty untamed ground from Yakuza gangsters to the zombie apocalypse. Jason Franks' touches basis with the recurrent, at Blackglass at least, notions of the rock music industry devouring itself and Japanese sensibilities. It's like one of those show bags you used to get at the Easter thing, a mixture of treats waiting to be discovered*.

Let's check out the tunes.


"This family is going to hell" - Dad

rockstar Pizza is a stand alone comic issued by the good folks at Blackglass for our entertainment. To date there hasn't been a second volume, though arguably we might be looking at a prototype for the well received Kagemono series of comics and graphic novels. There's the same sense of organise chaos going down in rockstar Pizza that readers have come to know and love in the later Kagemono books. Okay headphones on, Black Sabbath's Paranoid inserted, let's check out an early example of what can be accomplished with some talent and a lot of ink.

The comic opens with a story that to be honest has me wondering whether or not I might just not be getting the Jason Franks thing. Teppodama sees a group of Yakuza gunmen getting a new leader, becoming the front line troops in an intended takedown of a rival gang, and involves a penultimate gun battle that makes the Valentine's Day Massacre look like a bitch slap between girl guides. I simply wasn't getting what was going down here, and about my only defence is the story is heavily indebted to Japanese concepts of honour and obedience. Maybe it had something to do with proving you are worthy of your current station? Anywise have a crack yourself and see if you can't unlock this puzzle, I'm like a dog with a bone; I'll eventually get to the morrow on this one.

Hey a titular story, the cover is inspired by rockstar Pizza as well, Jason Franks shows an early cynical view to the rock industry scoring both script and art credits here. A Band that has clearly not had the best gig ever to grace the pages of Rolling Stone magazine demands that their security allows no one into their dressing room. Follow the exploits of Meataxe and his fellow unnamed door guard as they turned aside all sorts of weirdos wanting some of the Band's time. Ultimately it's a mission with little chance of a thank you. Did I detect a hint of zombie with one of the visitors?

Femme Noir ventures into the world of psychopaths, revenge, and about the whole nine yards of staring into the abyss. There's just something wholesome, in a Dexter kind of a way, about a world weary chick whose only resolution to a situation is to use violence. Great story with a really film noir, hence the title I guess, feel about things with the added spice of the lead character being female rather than the traditional hard drinking dude on about the dame that walked into his life. Another example, and we'll be hitting this beat in subsequent Blackglass comic reviews, of Jason Franks taking a genre trope and shaking it all about.

The comic rounds out with the amusing Peas, a story that will have dark genre fans happy and contented with life. It's a take on the zombie apocalypse as seen from the viewpoint of one dysfunctional family. This assortment of individuals was hardly working as a unit while they were alive; let's toss some undead mushy peas into the mix to see what might transpire. Simply an excellent and amusing story, I'm giving it two thumbs up.

rockstar Pizza is drawn in a sort of simplistic 1950s style that should appeal to nostalgia fans, retro comic readers, and about anyone else who wants something different to the mainstream Yank style comic books littering our shelves. While the artistic styles range from standard pulp comic to the feel of animated cells, there's no denying that the various Artists capture the feeling of the scripts and each story has been given some loving detail. As stated above it's the sort of order chaos one might expect when the inmates take over the Asylum and decide to run things their own way. I'm actually impressed by the approach, but then again I prefer Indie horror flicks over the over engineered Boredwood equivalent. Give me some grime and reality with my morning cereal rather than plastic veneer thank you very much.

Jason Franks shows a great deal of promise with rockstar Pizza as a Writer, and heck let's not beat around the bush, social commentator. Each of the scripts in the comic are written with an eye to plot flow, get where they are going with minimum detours, and have something to say about either the Institutions we live amongst or the human condition. However when Franks decides to get funky, see the excellent Peas, he can deliver a humours off the cuff yarn that will bring a grin to your face. There's a versatility going down in Franks published work that immediately brings to mind Forrest's view on a box of chocolates.

Okay before anyone writes in and questions why ScaryMinds is covering a comic that isn't overtly horror let me present the case for the defence and maybe save some readers from the indignant email rampage. While the only story in the collection that can be considered pure horror is Peas, each of the other three have a dark underpinning recognisable as a denizen of the dark genre forest. Jason Franks, as a writer, presents a world view in rockstar Pizza where there is no safe underpinning and where at any moment the floor might give way, spinning things into a vortex of chaos and unexpected outcomes. If, as Stephen King has argued, horror is the chaos seeping into the ordered every day, then Jason Franks knows exactly what the hell he is doing and has this thing called horror roped and branded. The Horror mansion is a very large building, there is plenty of room for differing takes on what can be described as "horror". Jason Franks follows a 1980s horror movement of taking the horror out of the backwoods and bringing it into middle class suburbia, by taking the darkness downtown into the boardrooms and night life of society. If anyone wants to put on the soundtrack to Halloween about now it would be appropriate, Jason Franks already knows the beat.

Summary Execution ...

rockstar Pizza arrived with a bundle of other releases by Blackglass so it's taken me a while to get around to checking the comic out. The problem with having lots of cool stuff on your desk at any one time is you tend to have to go back to check things else you run the risk of confusing exactly which story appears where. I've actually taken some time out to get to grips with rockstar Pizza and besides one story I'm still not getting I had a hell of a time with the comic. This one really appealed to me for some undefinable reason and once I have this review finished and into the editing queue I'm going to tackle it again.

For those wondering where they can get their hands on the comic I would suggest marching down to your local comic emporium and demanding they stock it. While you're there point out the general lack of shelve space for local product. Anywise having exhausted that avenue, but having the pleasure of kicking some geek in the nuts, check out Blackglass' web site by clicking right here. rockStar Pizza is available to purchase for the insanely cheap price of $4.50 (AUD) along with a whole bunch of other comics that are well worth checking out. And yes before you ask they do ship overseas, so no excuse Readers, get those ordering digits working.

I'm not even going to muck around with wordage here, yes the comic comes highly recommended, what are you waiting for.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  Jason Franks and team understand the dark subversive nature of horror, get your horror on with rockstar Pizza.

* - That would be back when show bags were actually good value for money and not another cynical money spinner.