Thursday, August 23, 2007

Igor, Fixed by Frankensteins, A Review

As you all know, Jim and I do monthly picks of books from independent publishers that are interesting and worth investigating if want something other than superheroes. While our picks seemingly appear random, there is quite often a great deal of research that goes into them. We try to locate art samples, preview pages, reviews of past work, and any other tidbit of information that will give people a better idea of what a book is about. Sometimes, we can’t find any information about a book, and in such rare cases we must resort to drastic measures such as contacting the creators directly. And, trust me, because of the vast amount of quality material available, this very rarely done. But, this month, one book stood out enough to make me want to see more. That book was Igor, Fixed by Frankensteins by Chris Reilly & Chris Grine.

The cover intrigued me because of it’s simplicity and subtle hints of humor. The ad copy read: Everyone's favorite deaf, mute hunchback returns for another series of adventures. Igor finds himself in another series of odd predicaments and laughs can only ensue in this hilarious, gross, weird, unexpected and quite possibly the Citizen Kane of baled, mute, mutant hunchback comics. Introduction written by Batton Lash. 72 pages.
And, between the cover and the hype, this struck all the right cords with me! Humor, weirdness, unexpected happenings, and hunchbacks, what more can a person ask for? But, after exhaustive searching, I was unable to find any more information about Igor. So, I wrote to Chris Reilly, the author, who was kind enough to provide a stack of preview pages.

The story, at its most basic, is about Igor trying to find the girl he fell in love with. And, of course, the strange adventures and people that he meets along the way.

I am not sure that I can accurately describe all the adventures that Igor has along the way. Some of them include meeting up with friends, who happen to be a werewolf, mummy, and fish creature respectfully. Other times Igor gets attacked by astronauts, grumps, and a very obese King Triton. And in between all of that, is the story about how he comes to be and how he falls in love with a little Igor-girl. As you can see, there is no shortage of goings-on in this book.

The humor ranges from slapstick to the subtle. On one page, Igor catches a giant flying fish only to be snapped off and collide with a passing blimp with a loud thud. On another page, a robot with bottles for arms is attacked and robbed by the glass recycling bin. The great thing aspect to stories like these is the fact that each page has it’s own “character” and it’s never the same. In addition to the humor, there are scenes of tenderness such as this one where Igor gives the little girl his rat-eye for a heart. It’s as strange as it is amusing. And finally, there are scenes that are as amusing as they are gory, such as the one where the mummy and werewolf kill a mollusk monk (read the book to understand) who was mean to them.

Overall, the story is quite good. It has bits of humor that are juxtaposed by random bits of violence. In conversation, Chris Reilly stated his influences as Bob Burden, Ogden Whitney, Basil Wolverton, Harvey Kurtzman, Edward Gorey, Dr. Seuss and every grade Z horror movie ever made, with a heavy emphasis on Roger Corman, Phil Tucker and Ed Wood. And, there is a little bit of everyone of them in the story.

The art is great throughout even though the cartoony feel of it sometimes seems to be a direct contradiction to the graphicness of the scene. The art is best described by Batton Lash, writer/artist of Supernatural Law, in his introduction: ”Not since Jim Woodring’s work have I seen such surreal landscaping, visual puns, bizarre juxtaposition of images, and stream of consciousness used to effectively in comics”

In general, what would I compare this too? I would compare it to many of the comics seen in independent newspapers like CityPaper. Strips like Matt Groening’s “Life in Hell” or Jay Stephans “Oddville” easily come to mind as similar types of thing. Sometimes touching, sometimes not, always entertaining.

This is easily recommended for fans of Lenore & Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Or, if you like material this edgy, sometimes happy, sometimes bleak, but always surprising. This is a good book for you.

Finally, click on the image and you can read Batton Lash's intro. It's well done and really captures the essence of the book better than I.


PS. Lots of the pictures are small, but click for larger (readable) image.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. Looks like it has some very funny moments.