"I Ain't the cuddling type." - McBlack
Once upon a time there was a small boy who had monsters in his dreams. The Boy wanted to get rid of the monsters and decided he needed the help of the baddiest monster hunter in all the land. So he called upon the infamous McBlack to help him rid his dream world of dark and dangerous things.
McBlack was only too happy to help the little boy, as it involved dark places and violence, the two things McBlack loved above all else. Of course you have to be very careful what you dream of in the dark genre, especially when tigers and unicorns are endangered species. Someone is about to find out there are all sorts of monsters, some of which you should never invite into your dreams.
Jason Franks has been quietly going about his business recently redefining what the comic book form is. Two Shoot even goes further than the previous McBlack outing in changing up what a comic book can do. While One Shoot involved itself in Author intrusion into a sort of another reality via a video game format, the current comic features the best ever Aussie comic Anti-Hero invading the dreams of another character and changing things up in a surreal fashion. For sure it's a gamble, how many dreamscape outings have you seen or read that simply don't work - hands up no pushing and shoving kids, Franks manages to pull it off in convincing style, and even finishes with the sort of dark genre flourish we all love to groove to.
While the script manages to scamper through various dream plains, for want of a better description, it seems to be driving directly toward the final couple of panels. This of course requires a fixed and focused plot line that builds toward the predetermine conclusion, but while taking some detours from the direct route Franks is all over the requirement. Stephen King pulled off the same trick with Pet Sematary to be honest, where the whole book provides pretty much the background to the final paragraph. Jason Franks helpfully provides a narrative on the final page of the comic for those who might have missed some of the nuances, proving he wouldn't be out of place knocking off the odd flash fiction piece.
While this might seem all artistic and Biennale the prospective Reader can rest easy, Franks hasn't gone all wine and cheese set on us just yet. McBlack remains a rogue with a penchant for letting his guns do the talking, there's more firepower here than a SAS platoon could bring to the party, and Franks isn't skipping the violence. Let's just say unicorns are an endangered species in the McBlack universe. So if your definition of art stretches to beheadings, animal slaughter, and violence for the sake of violence, then feel free to wax lyrical, for sure the Directors of the Biennale won't as it might upset their tight arsed view of what constitutes art.
Typical McBlack script then, a take no prisoners stance with no apologises being made for content. Just the way we like our scripts, if this offends then toughen up Princess the Australian dark genre scene isn't about making friends and influencing people on the pages. Jason Franks once again proves he can jive with the best of them both locally and OS.
Surprisingly Jason Franks in the role of editor has gone with five Artists to pencil the panels featured in the 30 odd pages of the book. While this may seem excessive it's a requirement of the plot due to the nature of the dream world Franks is evoking. We start in typical McBlack fashion as the situation is introduced, Dave Gutierrez bringing the dark almost noir feel to things. Bruce Mutard handles our first foray into the dream world, which stays pretty much on the broad and narrow, full marks for the toys however, (Buzz Lightyear, I may be wrong but think it was the clown doll from Poltergeist, and one of the Thunderbirds dudes). You will note the surreal edges Mutard brings to the table in very subtle fashion. Luke Pickett adds the "kid's crayon drawing" sequence, which is apparently a lot harder than it first appears according to Artistic types I know. Rhys James hits the McBlack doppelganger sequence, this is a by now regularly recurring character in the franchise that probably has something to do with our hero's state of mind or something. There's a whole different look and feeling going down during James' panels to the rest of the book, all to do with the styling. John Stewart rounds out as the expected McBlack mayhem hits a crescendo and the sting in the tale is delivered.
Not surprisingly, I'm yet to see a misstep in a McBlack release, everything is merged skilfully with the Reader not being taken out of the book by a jarring change from one artistic style to the next. Nice blend that works like a well oiled gun in delivering the contents in a very satisfactory fashion.
Out of room here as usual, and have quite a bit more to say about the book. Oh to hell with it, go read McBlack Two Shot to get your groove on. Technically the comic comes in U.S format, is full glossy colour throughout, and arrives sans adverts. The malevolent cover is well worth the price of admission alone kids.
Full recommendation to McBlack fans, Jason Franks continues to explore what he can do with his character in various guises of content. If you haven't dialled into the books yet, there's a fair amount of back catalogue to get through people, then this could be the one to kick off your exploration with. Expect the unexpected and you will be right with the franchise, though for mine this is the first McBlack outing that drives straight down the highway to the final statement without stopping off too much for gas along the way. Either Franks had a clear vision for this story or he is honing his style for something in the future. The truth is out there, though for sure I don't won't to see Jason Franks frocking up and pretending he's Agent Dana Scully, there's too much writing that needs his immediate attention.
McBlack Two Shot is available online from Black Glass Press for the excellent price of $5.50. While there why not pick up other McBlack outings and set aside a rainy Saturday arvo to get your youth back on! Come on some chocolate flavoured beers, some McBlack, the afternoon writes itself. Please note here at Scaryminds we don't condone chocolate flavoured beer, but readers in the West drink the stuff like it's going out of fashion apparently. If wanting more of the comic then head on over to McBlack for even more shenanigans. That's it I'm out to read Two Shot, again.