"What could make a normal man snap like that and become a maniac ... making toasted cheese sandwiches out of toddlers!" - Anon
Milk Shadow Books are certainly flexing their muscles in 2013 and taking on the big boys with a series of collections that should have most, if not all, ScaryMinds readers getting down with the groove. Dillon Naylor, artist and comic book rebel with a cause, has drifted in from the mean streets of Melbourne with a retrospective collection of his work that will blow your socks off. There's some never before published stuff here, some art that was thought lost, and a good view over the Dude's body of work to date. If you have heard of Dillon Naylor, perhaps you have one of his band posters stored for posterity under your bed, then this is one collection you aren't going to want to miss. If like me, Dillon Naylor is a name that has snuck under the radar than prepared to be amazed and entertained. Let's get beyond the covers and see what this Naylor bloke is all about.
Okay so my excuse for not knowing who Naylor is would be I'm a new Aussie and haven't been anywhere near Melbourne outside a few business trips. The place is full of AFL supporters, recommended wide berth would be order of the day. If you do hail from Bleak City then you should be right across Dillon Naylor as the dude who pretty much epitomises alternative comic subversion in Australia. From out of control band posters to comics that slice like a well sharpened knife. Naylor has an eye for keeping things slightly off kilter, and you have to love the fact that he has done more than dipped his toes in the horror pool. Show me an alternative comic creator and I'll show you a horror fan lurking in the shadows. I'm really hoping Naylor decides to do some work for the current crop of dark genre magazines that are keeping fans busy, he deserves the coverage and we all deserve Naylor's approach.
So Milk Shadow Books haven't been miserly in their approach to sending Naylor's work out to fans and collection readers in the darker corners of the world. A 210 page standard U.S format release is a pretty risky venture considering comics and graphic novels aren't exactly hitting the top seller lists in this part of the World. But really anything less would not have captured what Naylor is about at various stages of his career of general mayhem. You get a lot jammed into the book with a fair amount of coverage by the Artist talking through differing series. I'm always up for reading why someone approaches their work in a certain way and how it came about; Naylor is pretty blunt and isn't presenting anything other than the reality of working in comic art in this Country.
What held my attention was the first section of the book that shows Naylor in a sort of Tales From the Crypt mode, maybe an influence on Jason Paulos? The included stories and comic covers could be something delivered to us by the Crypt Keeper, assuming the Keeper was as Ocker as football, Holden cars, and meat pies that is. I was certainly pleased to get my retro on once again, they don't appear to want to make comics harkening back to the golden age of horror publications, you know before they tamed it all down. Fingers crossed the allure of publications like Decay get's Naylor thinking of the dark arts again. Be warned, Naylor has a firm grasp of black humor, you are going to get some strange looks on public transport if cackling away to the book.
Naylor is offering a whole lot more in this collection than retro horror, there's a whole bunch of room given over to his exploration of local bands via time travel, trips to hell, and the like. So yeah we are still getting a heavy dose of darkness. I'm not aware of any of these bands but did enjoy the exploits of the Degenerates, rocking out the Jurassic, Fireballs gigging in hell, Satellite laying waste to a Bogan bar in a fairly unique fashion, and The Fat Thing heading into the hinterland. Along with the stories you also get a whole bunch of flyers and album covers for the bands that Naylor created for.
Along with the stories the collection delivers a whole bunch of flyers and posters Dillon Naylor created for the local Melbourne music scene, a series of album and magazine covers, and of course a whole lot of published and unpublished sketches that should appease those simply after the pictures who don't want to read anything.
In terms of the artwork, whoa really left that till the final furlong, think a Artist heavily influenced by the underground 1960s cross laced with an Artist who could have been drawing on those Scooby Doo comics. We're talking a style that ducks and weaves, which ultimately refuses to be pigeon holed. Dillon Naylor draws to the subject matter, he doesn't change the subject matter to fit his style, so hell yeah the guy is pretty schizo on the page, but for sure that makes interesting viewing, you are never going to quite know what might lurk on the next page.
All up a well rounded collection that gives a real insight into Dillon Naylor the artist. There's diversity to this collection that should have comic and non-comic fans alike giving Milk Shadow Books a standing ovation. The book is delivered as a highly professional publication that had me rocking out from front cover to back cover. If you are only planning on getting one collection this year then this is pretty much that collection, you don't need to look any further afield. Milk Shadow Books once again demonstrating why they are counted as one of our best graphic publishers Downunder, you get real value for money when dialling into any of their publications. Just be warned, no one's apologising for content and the books are habit forming, you may just find yourself ordering a few other titles form Milk Shadow.
[Editor's note: Any and all artwork reproduced in these reviews remains the intellectual property of either the Publisher or Artist, if you want to create an avatar or whatever then contact those folks. We reprint some artwork as a standard review requirement, we do not own the artwork, so no use asking if you can re-use!]