Kagemono #2 (2008)

Editor Jason Franks
Publisher Black Glass Press
Writers Jason Franks, J. Marc Schmidt
Art and Colours Nathan Wiedemer, Yuriko Seline, Colin Wells, Tom Bonin, J. Marc Schmidt, Luke Pickett, Andrew Fulton
Genre Collection

Talk us through it

Kagemono #2 carries on the good work Jason Franks' wrecking crew got underway in the first Issue. We get six stories of various lengths, from various genres, with various styles of art going down. The concept with this Issue seems to be that anything goes as long as it's of a darker nature. Sorry folks if after your Garfield fix then try one of the tabloid press publications, and what on earth are you reading this site for in the first place? Missing this time round is an editorial by Jason Franks, we're on our own here kids, we are either going to sink or swim.

Ready to track through the dark underbrush to see what might be lurking?


"I want him to see how beautiful all my girlfriends are" - Jackie

There seems to be a general assumption around review circles that if you aren't a retro or specific genre site then you should really be focusing on new releases and letting past glories somehow rest easy in the public subconscious. A reader pointed this out to me following the publication of the review of Kagemono #1, as she wondered when we might get to more recent Jason Franks fare. Besides ScaryMinds being a "specific genre site", hence we can go as retro as a mop top, I pointed out to her that any understanding of an Artist's work, if said Artist is trying for something slightly more lasting than fish and chip wrapping, requires a journey through the past darkly. You need to see past works in order to fully appreciate currently works. Which is kind of prolonged way of saying that I will be covering Kagemono in chronological order from first Issue to most recent. As our esteemed Editor puts it, we're playing a lot of catch up in order to be in a position to cover current releases. Over a hundred years of dark dreaming takes a little while to get to grips with.

Kagemomo #2 kicks off with Jason Franks lining up one of his favourite targets, the commercial music industry. You know, the one that employs the heavy squad to harass tweens and old people who clicked on the wrong download button. Belly Of The Beast pretty much sums up what the industry is about, when did the music die? - as Franks goes for the jugular in unapologetic fashion. "They don't care if the music is good or bad - mediocre is easier to sell", which would explain bogan fav Delta Goodrum I guess. The story is told from the viewpoint of a guitarist that is in it for the actual music as the realities of the money driven corporate viewpoint comes crashing down on his head. I sort of worked out where the story was going, but Franks did still manage to spring a surprise twist on me. There's more happening behind the pages of this story than is first apparent. To all intents and purposes Belly Of The Beast is a fable that calls to mind a certain well known quote that I wont post as it's one big fat spoiler.

Boyfriend Material is the sort of horror story that really makes the dark genre stand out from the pack and shows exactly what sort of a punch the go for broke tale can deliver when it's in the right hands. I was grooving to this one, Yuriko Seline's manga inspired drawing really made the second story a memorable one. If after your Jason Franks pure horror fix then look no further kids, one of his best concepts to date.

Switching into Sci-Fi mode Love Potion #999B17X is a pretty harsh indictment on what men look for in women. Once again Franks is being unapologetic in his targeting and uses the forum of the comic to send something of a message our way. The question being, what would you have done in Pinnock's situation?

J. Marc Schmidt goes it alone with the wonderfully silly short The Handbag That Eats Babies. You kind of get the feeling the one page story came from Schmidt doodling on a pad and then formalising things in an urban legend sort of a fashion. The story almost has a whimsical feel about it and would make a good poster for dorm walls. Hey just a thought over here.

Jason Franks grabs back the reigns with the very effective Tolerance To Iron, a story that combines a fairy tale feel with an almost gothic atmosphere. It's a dark and brooding tale that should appease any Tim Burton fans reading. I should add it's also the second straight horror tale that Franks is telling us in Kagemono #2.

The Issue closes with another urban legend style story, Snuff. For those out of the loop, there was a rumour that periodically surfaced during the 1980s and 1990s that some of the more extreme movies coming out of South America or Eastern Europe involved the filming of the actual torture and murder of people. Naturally the rumours proved to be false, if for the moment we forget about Italian preferences for turtle soup, but urban legends remain much more interesting than reality. Anywise, and sorry for the digression, Snuff ponders what if the rumours weren't simply made up yarns. It's a great ending to a diverse Issue.

To a certain extent Jason Franks' horror elements are far more accessible in Kagemono #2 than in previous comics. The dark stuff is right on the surface here, but there's still the underlying notion that in a number of the stories what you are getting on the page is only the surface. Rivers are running deep in the comic and you will need to read between the lines to get full value from Kagemono #2. That's not to say that a skim read isn't going to satisfy your comic requirements, the stories are solid and stand up to quick reading, but you do have a deeper voyage if you want to undertake it.

Once again, as in Kagemono #1, the artwork is a grab bag of styles and interpretations of the scripts Jason Franks sends our way. Guess one of the strengths here is the various Artists being used ensure the reader is never going to get too far into their comfort zone. Art style ranges from the manga influenced, through naive simplism, to almost otherworldly interpretation of the normal. Whether the Individual artist captures the resonance of each story is up to the individual reader to decide for themself, I was pretty happy with this aspect of the comic.

Special mention of Bobby N's cover work for Issue 2, it's distinctive and managed to link a happy atmosphere with the arrival of chaos on at a typical suburban house. You are left to imagine what happens next, the cover implies movement rather than a static viewpoint.

Summary Execution ...

Kagemono #2 was just the right dose for an over wise rain drenched and miserable day; yes we do get them in Oz folks. I was once again highly impressed with Jason Franks writing, noted the deeper thoughts a number of the stories addressed, and grooved along to the artwork. There's something subversive about Kagemono that kept me humming to Mr Franks beat. The comic reminds me of one of those 1960s alternative view books, but I still haven't worked out which one.

No doubt you are just chomping at the bit, getting your knickers in a knot, and jonesing to get your sweaty hands on your own copy of Kagemono #2. Well drop your linen and start your grinning the comic is available for purchase online right here. Did I mention it's only $5 (AUD)?

All the cool kids at school have the comic, well okay all the geeks do, as it's a requirement in polite society to be able to recount the latest stories from Kagemono. Don't be left out at dinner parties folks get your head around this comic to be the center of focus, otherwise you run the risk of being big yellow bus special.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  Another winning comic from Black Glass!

People have been wondering about the quotes we tend to include with most reviews. Yes they are directly from the work being reviewed, no they don't necessarily define the work, and yes most times you will need to dive into the work to get what's going down. Feel free to keep the questions coming folks.