Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Ennui than Anarchy

Today's foray into the past is a little unusual. That's primarily because it was only a 3 issue series, and I never got the third issue. I try to stay away from discussing books that I haven't read in their entirety. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain that even if I had the third issue, Kid Anarchy would have been incomplete.

It's also unusual simply because I've held onto these two issues all these years despite a completely apethetic view of the work. Most of the stuff that I've had for nearly 20 years is something I liked in some way. Maybe even something I really disliked, just as a reminder of roads not to take again. But this? I really have no feelings about it at all.

I think the reason it's stuck around is the size. Its 8 1/2"x11" size meant it didn't fit in The Comics Cabinet. It just sat on top, in a pile of other odd sized stuff. As a result it escaped purges of the Cabinet when it got too full (which it is now).

Anyway, on to what you're here for - a review. Kid Anarchy was published by Fantagraphic Books from March 1991 until some time in 1992 (not really sure of the exact date of the third issue, for obvious reasons). The second issue was August 1991. I'd say the fact that the final issue wasn't until some time in 1992 might have had something to do with my not getting it, too. I graduated from law school and got married that year, which meant lots of moving around. This probably fell off the radar. That I was very poor then meant I might not have bought it even if I did know it was out.

Did I say I was going to review this? Yeah, I think I did. Kid Anarchy was written by George Cole and the art was by Mike McCarthy. There are no capes here. No ghosts or goblins. No invaders from space. No dystopian future. All we have here is angst, and lots of it. It's like Harvey Pekar, but without the quality of art and with a younger protagonist.

Our titular "hero" is Tommy Delaney. The first person narrative that opens the story only indicates the events depicted occur some time in the past but the Wikipedia page, consisting of one paragraph, says it was the early '80s. Tommy appears to be a high school graduate. His emotional development remains somewhere in middle school, though. Kid Anarchy is a persona he creates for himself that isn't so much a persona as a T shirt with the sleeves ripped off and an A with a circle around it spray painted on the front. As statements of rebellion go, this ain't much.

He lives in a mobile home with some family or other. He doesn't seem to have a job. He has friends named Sherman Krellberg (Jewish and black, horned rimmed glasses, community college student, rides a motorcycle with side car), Sam Woods (artist with a redneck exterior, pretty boy blonde), Nina (somewhat older, owner of combination indy comics and indy music store called Pandemonium, object of Tommy's affections), and Chuck Moonchow (scion, former hippy). The male members of this quintet, particularly the poorer trio, like to hang out at a burger joint called Pops, where burgers are cheap and plentiful. The entire affair is set in a fictional small Southern town called Yamston.

Not much happens in these two issues. They hang out and yammer a lot. There's much posturing by the male members, though Sherm seems like a cypher. Moonchow is loud and obnoxious. They all drink a lot. Nina goes out with some other guy who sells to her albums and comics he's located at yard sales and auctions. He's married. They try having sex but he can't go through with it. It seems like they've done that dance before. Tommy is in a huff because Nina's not seeing him, though he knows from the outset that his affections are unrequited by anything more than friendship from Nina. Lots and lots of existential angst.

As far as the art, I can't decide if it's merely bad or a conscious choice. It's definitely lacking in proportion and perspective, but the over sized heads on the characters seem like a choice in style, with much less attention paid to the body of each character. Regardless, it's disconcerting at times when the angles aren't right to show the proper depth that should be present in a character's body position. Look at that right arm on Kid Anarchy on the cover of the first issue. Is that a hand or a flipper? A bent right arm should not come to the same end point, in terms of level on the page, as the straight left arm. A bent arm has to be shorter, as long as it's the two arms of the same person and they're both about the same length.

Overall, it's typical of the black and white independent sort of stuff of the time. For every Omaha the Cat Dancer you had eight or nine of these sorts of things (not that this has any graphic sex like Omaha). This is a PG endeavor into navel gazing. Harmless, but not overly memorable.

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