By Leroy Douresseaux
April 17, 2007 - 11:34
Cartoonist Brandon Graham is a member of the cartoon collective, gang, or studio, Meathaus, purveyors of strange and beautiful art filled with fantastic visions. That, in a nutshell, describes Graham's new OEL Manga (original English language), King City. Visually, it's a smorgasbord of the last 40 years worth of sci-fi comix. Personally, I saw Spain's Trashman, quite a bit of anything by Mœbius, Lee & Kaluta's Starstruck, Chaykin's American Flagg!, some Liberatore, and even Miller & Darrow's Hard Boiled. King City is like sci-fi counter culture right out of Underground Comics. It is rooted in the pop futurism of Metal Hurlant and its American baby, Heavy Metal. Back in the early 1980's, King City probably would have found a place in the much-missed Marvel sci-fi/fantasy anthology magazine, Epic.
There's no doubt this book epitomizes TOKYOPOP's grand vision of global manga precisely because it seems to embody sci-fi comix not only from across Europe, the U.S. and even Asia or (dare I say?) Third World. Looking at the cover, the shame of this is that it should be a full color, hardback, European-style album. (Do a Google image search and you'll find some of these pages in color.)
As for the story: much of Volume 1 is setup. This concept's potential really doesn't explode until the last three chapters. In the meantime, Graham takes us on a magical tour through his crowded gumbo of punk futurism and pulp sci-fi. It slow going at first, but King City is a meal worth contemplating long after you've had your last rich spoonful.