Right ho, then, little cheese-creature, fancy a city adventure” - Bones O'Brien
Volume 1 is the hard copy of the web comic Sawbones, and is aimed at people like you and me who can't be arsed to get updates each week but want to get their comic on in full loving abundance. The book drags together a whole bunch of early strips, including the first five plot arcs, so if you haven't been exposed to the miss-adventures of Bones O'Brien and Sheriff Sawyer as yet then this is probably a good place to get your toes wet.
Okay so not only do you get lots of the web comic coming at you, but you also get the 24 hour comic challenge story that kicked the whole thing off, a couple of flash pieces, and a gallery featuring some top Aussie talent. I should also mention that at the bottom of most pages you get some humorous inserts to be going on with. And people complain about not getting value for money in the modern world! Let's rock and roll it.
First things first then, just how to describe Sawbones for our International guests who seem determined to have comparisons to their own franchises? In a vague yet genuine attempt to get something happening in this direction I went with Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy. There's a very similar style of comedy going down in both camps. A sort of quiet approach that takes a while to get a handle on. Once you do of course you are laughing like a crazy person with people around you wondering what you have been smoking. The artwork is completely different however between the comics, and to be honest I can't draw a parallel in terms of comics, but figure the best comparison would be to some of those cartoons Nickelodeon trot out for the sandpit crew. That good enough for you? Did I mention that Sawbones centers around two skeleton zombies, the urbane Bones O'Brien and the rootin tootin Sheriff Clancy Sawyer, and their pet undead sheep Cheesy. Now that's something the Nick could certainly get into cartoon wise, but might be beyond the fevered imagination of Darby Conley.
Jen Breach's first five story arcs are going to make you sit up and take notice, we're talking some weird ideas floating around here folks. The Country Death sees our two favourite zombies taking the rural air and adopting a sheep, Bones thinks it's some sort of cheese creature hence the name. Of course zombification isn't far off, and Cheesy takes a decided meatasaur turn for the better. In Dead Famous Sawyer, not the biggest Opera fan in the world, manages to achieve fame and stardom by doing what he does best, carnage and death. Naturally this all goes to his head, well who wouldn't get excited with Celine involvement, but Bones is on hand to bring order into the house via violence. Sawyer's past comes a visiting in The Quick and the Undead via the appearance of Wyatt while Bones and Sawyer are taking an evening stroll through a cemetery. While Wyatt may match Sawyer's delight in guns and mayhem, it's his daytime job that has Bones disbelieving. Speaking of Bones we learn in A Dead Quiet Cinema that he is a movie star, at least in his own mind, with a bit part in Night of the Living Dead to his credit. No prizes for guessing what role he plays. Naturally a few quiet hours in front of the big screen is not going to ensure as Bones confronts his non-adoring fans. And finally the undead play cards in Poker Night, and naturally Bones and Sawyer aren't that good at the game.
Overall then I would stake my reputation, what little remains, on most readers enjoying the script. It's all wine and roses, chaos enters the frame, then it simply goes dark real quickly. Simple recipe for an outstanding romp down some of the dark genre's darker psychological back roads. Candiloro is deliciously devious with 2WO, it ain't over till the fat demented lady screams yo.
Once again value for money or what! Jen Breach shows a strong writing style, and you have to give two thumbs up to anyone with this sort of imagination. I was particularly taken with the start of Poker Night, talk about your groaner. Okay you have been warned, there's also plenty of violence and mayhem, topped off with the odd bit of brain eating. Does this mean that Sawbones is set more in Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead world and less in Romero's Dead universe? Oh hell yes, if they want to make a sixth Return movie to try and resurrect the franchise then they should talk to Breach, though we would be talking more blood and guts than Ash could achieve with his boom stick in a first full of films.
Moving right along to Trevor Wood's artwork. The boy can draw, the boy can colour, the boy adds exactly the right amount of zaniness on the visual front to fully endorse the script. It's pretty unique stuff, though you will be reminded of those Nick cartoons you might have been exposed to at a formative age. While I was digging Breach's script, I was also onboard Wood's groove train with the artwork. Truth be told I was pushing pensioners out of the way to get to the first class carriages. We're talking colourful well conceived panels that make Sawbones simply a delight to read and a visual treat for those of us that are all arty and stuff. Well okay it involves brain eating zombies, so I guess the wine and cheese set are going to be mortified if they are caught in Sawbones' cross hairs, while lesser beings such as myself are enjoying artwork that doesn't take itself too seriously. Actually Trev Woods should enter something in the Archibald, then we could get all indignant if it didn't win.
Sawbones is in full glorious colour and arrived on my desk in standard U.S comic book format. Weighing in at 102 pages, we're talking a serious comic book here in terms of epic size. The printing is tight, the binding is solid, and the attention to getting a product out the door is outstanding. Well thought out package that was executed with style.
So tell them the price comes to mind. Sawbones Volume 1 is going to set you back $20 and is available online right here. Before you ask, yes the site does take International orders. The official Sawbones site is right around here, offering a weekly updated strip, blogs, merchandise, and all manner of undead goodness.
Clearly I had a real good time with what amounts to a graphic novel, and can't wait to get my hands on more Sawbones hijinx in the coming months. The name “sawbones” is a slang reference to a Doctor, so naturally I'm going to round out with the advice, get your Sawbones on, it's going to cure whatever ails ya. Kaboomtish, I'm here through Thursday. [Editors Note: As opposed to our readers]