"Old Brendan was a good sort … guess everyone has their time" - Anon
Guess the plot of this one is going to be hard to throw onto the table without giving away major spoilers, which is something I'm loath to do as Issue #1 of Allochthonous Pop (AP) rocks the house down. Anyway some unnamed dude lives alone, has a diet that would make most Doctors give up on health warnings, and does the sort of job that involves old folks' homes and koala bear outfits. During a typical day our central character is rocking out the local retiree home, where the inmates are getting over the death of Brendan, and has to contend with fellow commuters, inner city homeboys, and of course culinary requirements. That's about all I'm going to serve up on the plot, read the comic to get the good oil, it had me high fiving my Norman Bates action figure.
I'm almost always up for a story involving aliens amongst us, especially if said aliens are of the Cthulu variety. James Andre, taking time out of his regular comic beat as the depraved Mr Slime, delivers on the alien requirement in a sort of wish fulfilment for readers. Using time honoured horror techniques Andre starts his delivery stride with a quiet introduction, before building up with one of the more weird central characters you could possibly discover, before delivering with enough force to have dark genre punters happy with the material at hand. Surprisingly even though the text skims the waters of post death shenanigans, Andre pulls the central idea off with the same excellent sleight of hand that Tobe Hooper managed with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You know you should be gagging when the chainsaws make an appearance, but somehow it all seems perfectly natural. Might be the mark of a true story teller, or I've been dialling into the deep end a couple of years too long. Regardless, friends and neighbours, we're talking fracking chainsaws and dead bods, yo horror nirvana right here right now.
I guess the major surprise with the script is the lack of actual dialogue and wordage. This is one for the reading impaired, never let it be said that James Andre isn't helping out those that need a hand, albeit the helping bit involves a meat cleaver. During the entire 24 odd page running time I counted exactly one line of dialogue, quoted above, the odd single word, and exactly zero from "the voice of god". Andre confines himself to the odd comment, "That'll be us soon enough", and the sort of ambient sounds that drive those found footage movies. It all works wonderfully well, the story is in the pictures, for once I can actually truthfully say "I'm not here to read the articles". I'm not sure if the approach is due to the story being from the central character's POV, or simply that Andre had decided the actual script was strong enough in and of itself not to need unnecessary padding out. Hit the book and make your own mind up, it's like one of those silent movies that seemed to have been consigned to the dustbin of cinematic history just recently.
For the bright eyed and bushy tailed amongst us James Andre is laying down the odd wink, check out the "Deceased Pickup" book - and if you don't get the references there you might just be on the wrong site, could I suggest twilightmoms.com instead. I'm always up for some referencing in my dark genre material so got a bit of a buzz from some name dropping.
Before moving on I should point out Issue #1 of AP does exactly what the first issue in a graphic novel should do. It introduces the main viewpoint characters, lays down the situation, and finishes with a cliff hanger that is going to have the reader; can you read with minimum dialogue? - chomping at the bit for the next issue.
The artwork in AP was interesting in a "seen it before" way that sort of blends the illustration style in Where the Wild Things Are with a sort of children's book archetype expression that remains very pleasing to the eye. Luke Pikett, should do some research really before sitting down to compose these pieces, brings a unique eye to what is after all a fairly nasty tale of corpse shenanigans. The artwork lulls the reader into a false sense of security before the rug is pulled out from under any sense of safety or stability. If you really hate the kids down your local pre-school drop AP on their work table and wait for the screaming to start. Hey I'm not saying you should do that, and I refuse to answer questions regarding any terrors caused down tiny tot town. I'm just digging Pickett's ability to take a well versed art style and use and abuse it, the dude deserves a standing ovation.
Okay so the book itself is presented in mini-comic size by Milk Shadow Books and they haven't been dinting on paper weight. We're talking full colour to take advantage of the funky artwork and a light handed approach to presentation. I should point out that the Publisher has quite happily added "Mature Readers Only" to the back cover that precluded most of our team from eyeing up the goods inside.
So I clearly enjoyed AP Issue 1 and am now fanging for the next Issue to be released, Andre and Pickett should drop everything and get that happening asap. While I'm not quite sure if you actually read the comic, I had a good time with the minimum script and screwed take on the familiar art style. Gets a recommendation people, go out and purchase.
A copy of AP Issue 1 will set you back $5.99 (AUD + P&H) and is available from all good comic stores and online from Milk Shadows.