Sunday, 28 February 2010

Review: Haspiel & Fieffe: Brawl

This neat little three issue package published by Image comics is the print version of two comics available to view online at the Act-i-vate site. Dean Haspiel you may know for his recent work with Harvey Pekar on his adolescent memoir The Quitter, and in Immortal his square-jawed art is a little more rough around the edges, with a dynamic use of perspective that probably earns him the right to the quote on the front of the first issue calling him a 'heir to Kirby'. The whole thing is ridiculously tongue in cheek, and is intended to be fast-paced, two-dimensional, and a bit tacky. The dialogue is a series of one liners bounced back between the protagonist Billy Dogma and his girlfriend Jane, dialogue that comes across like 50's street talk. For me the whole thing is a little two dimensional and the artwork a little too unimaginative (although we do get a nice comic-within-a-comic moment when Dogma, swallowed by the monster that cannot love, learns of the monsters fate via a series of hieroglyphs carved on the inside of its stomach). I can try and take Immortal for what it is, but even if it is a creative attempt to reinvent the superhero genre slightly while still reveling in the silliness and the fun of it all, it doesn't quite hit the mark for me.

Michel Fiffe is a newcomer in my eyes and an artist whose work I would class as 'emo'. By this I mean he has an artistic quality that you'd find gracing the album covers of emo bands around the world, the kind of tortured distorted adolescent thing I should probably be ashamed of liking at the age of twenty four. The story sees our teenage reluctant hero (Augustus) run away to the city where he constantly finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. He also has this odd (and massively angstridden and metaphorical) condition brought on by anxiety and panic, where his whole body melts/warps into weird shapes, and generally has a mind of its own, usually landing him in more trouble. He meets a girl called Valencia who offering protection, really intends to exploit his special 'talents'. Plot wise this has a little bit more depth than Haspiel's story, with even a slight hint at a back story, but it is Fiffe's seemingly endless visual variations on Augustus's condition and his innovate use of panels, and beautiful line work and shading that really keeps me gripped here. It also features the weirdest sex scene I've seen in a comic for a while (I'll give you a hint: two become one).

To get a real sense of Fiffe however, I feel you have to be view him in colour, and to do that you can check out his webcomic Zegas on the Act-i-vate site, a brother and sister relationship story with a sci-fi twist.

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