Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hype Machine - Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker

CBR had the exclusive on the new series from Image as created by Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston. This is not just a rehash of their news with stolen images. This isn’t a cut-and-paste job at all, this is a discussion of what to make of Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker as it stands right now. Hit the jump to join in on the new sensation for 2011!

The Teasers

It started last month with all those goddamn teasers. You probably saw them…not on this site, but they were out there. A new one seemed to come out for every weekday of the month. They made no sense, they didn’t seem to fit together, they were like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Or they were a play on something we’ve seen far too often. When Marvel announced the new Secret Avengers they released a stack of silhouettes for the line up. Then they slowly revealed, via teaser images, who belonged to each of those silhouettes. Of course, they cheated and some silhouettes had been changed. Of course, they took their sweet time and left everyone breathless with anticipation. Of course, I hated having to wait.

This sort of thing is par for the course with the big publishers. It’s all about drawing it out. There’s plenty of room to mock this sort of concept, but Image had already played that angle with their Guardians of the Globe teaser series. This was something different. Image didn’t give a bit of information, just posting the teasers, and they just jumped straight in to give us something weird. I would have thought the best way to alienate an audience would have been to lead with a chick with a hanging dangler, but I’m not in marketing so maybe I’m the fool.

Most people didn’t know what to make of it all. Some speculated it wasn’t even for a comic, it was just some Andy Kaufman-esque performance piece to get people talking. By the time we got a teaser in the teens most sites had stopped running them. There were only so many things to say and only so much mileage you could get out of them. Just as things seemed to have died off, we finally got a cover.

Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker.

It’s a gag line if I ever heard one. It rolls off the tongue but in the same way a limerick does. I wasn’t sure if this comic was going to be for real, or a one-shot, or something else entirely. I will give the whole campaign that much, I was prepared to feel completely unprepared for everything.

And if I thought the first trailer was going to push people away then I certainly didn’t know what I was going to do with a comic cover staring at some dude’s US flag swaddled junk. It didn’t even feel safe for work, imagine your boss seeing that on your screen in high resolution without any context. You’d have a serious meeting with the higher ups after that.

I will admit, I was on the fence. And quite prepared to fall off on a side where there would be no BB belt buckles and dubious intent. I had resigned myself to the fact this one might just not be for me. It’s okay, you don’t have to dig everything that gets promoted or discussed. Sometimes you can make up your own mind and just agree to disagree. I was prepared to disagree with whatever this comic truly was.

Then the preview pages hit. Just looking at them in the small thumbnail version on CBR was intimidating. It still didn’t look like my sort of comic, but I’d come so far I had to read these pages. I owed Joe Casey that much; he’s a creator that has enough credits in my bank to get his foot in my door every time.

Now, I’m not going to steal the pages from CBR, that would be unethical, so you can go here to check them out. Once you’ve looked at them you can read my discussion.

Alright, let’s go.

Preview Pages

I read these four pages slowly. I really soaked in the art and thought about the writing. It’s only four pages, not a whole issue or even really a scene, but it’s enough. These pages did something I didn’t think would be possible, they won me over. I still didn’t know exactly what sort of genre this comic would be, and I’m not certain I still really understand, but I get the vibe of this comic. I get its tone and I dig on it.

We open on a scene of what would appear to be Jay Leno and Dick Cheney coming to see Butcher Baker. There is character setting banter, and one hell of a lovingly rendered dong door handle, but then we get the next page and the reveal of our eponymous man (because I’m reticent, at this stage, to say hero).

It’s a gratuitous opening shot, and you instantly get the feeling that Butcher (or do I call him Baker?) would not have it any other way. Small panels show us the truly visceral aspects of his den of iniquity and the major shot gives us the man. He looks like a cross between John Garrett and Cornelius Quinn and if you don’t know who those two guys are then I have a feeling you should go get yourself acquainted before you think about diving into the murky waters of this comic.

Jay and Dick need Butcher for some sort of a job and they’ve paid him a visit to win him over. They’ve even been magnanimous enough to provide trench-coated naked ladies as an enticement and peace offering. Through this, and Butcher’s internally captioned monologue of old glory days, we get the feeling that he’s a throwback from a previous era. Possibly a Cold War style of living, possibly something close but different, but he’s not the PC hero we’ve been weened onto this millennium. Butcher is a man as only men can write them and he doesn’t care if a woman or liberal guy with pleasant values reads about him. He’s not here for anyone else, he’s here to have some good ol’ fun.

You have to respect this mind set and appreciate the character. Well, at least, I do. I think he’s fascinating and he is the biggest hook for me on this series. Any lead that hangs out with his ladies shirtless to expose the broad, muscular and hairy chest, with rubber gloves on, rocking the handlebars, and providing a liquid and powedered good time for all is something that I think will be fun to read.

That’s the bottom line, this looks like fun.

If the other teasers have been any indication then this looks like it will go in plenty of other directions as well. I like a series that doesn’t have to make up its mind on exactly what it is. A book that defies definition or creates its own genre is a force of will I’m interested in investing my time and money in.

Mike Huddleston’s art really pops off the page. He’s somewhere along the lines of Bill Sienkiewicz and Riley Rossmo meets the Ba and Moon double bill of awesome. Yet, he is still his own artists. If Casey’s history is anything to go by, Huddleston will have much chance to stretch his legs and enjoy his stint on this title, however long they plan on it lasting.

Casey hits far more often than he misses with me, though I will admit Officer Downe was a comic that just didn’t grab me, but I also like it when he is trying his best to try his best. I always thought he should have been given a 16 page/$1.99 comic back when Image tried it with Ellis/Templesmith/Fraction/Ba. I guess this is his chance to give us something that will continue on the spirit, if not the format.

If you then go back to the teasers, all of them, you'll see a plethora of ideas on display. Casey and Huddleston look to be packing this comic full of all the things you didn't know you wanted and never felt safe to ask for. It's going to be an impressive and ambitious canvas, that much is sure.

This comic has the possibility to stand next to classics (and I use that term knowing exactly what I mean) by Casey like Gødland or Automatic Kafka. It’s seems to have been inspired, in spirit, by Fraction’s Casanova, though I see a very Sienkiewicz vibe sifted through the newer works of Frank Miller. There are balls on these pages, literally and figuratively. It’s a Nu-Image funk paying homage to old school psychedelia that probably doesn’t want to be compared to anything else.

Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker doesn’t need an elevator pitch, it just needs you to slow down and actually read those pages. You might just be pleasantly surprised and want to set the flux capacitor to March 30th of next year.

But then again, you might just hate what you've seen so far. And that’s cool.

The comic will still be. I kind of take comfort in that.


Have you checked out the preview for this comic? What did you think of the pages? Or the cover, or the character, or the creative team? Did the teaser images just destroy you right away before the comic ever really had a chance? Let us know in the comments what you’re thinking of this new announcement.

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brandon said...

This looks dreadully familiar. Can't say anything about this looks new or interesting. Hopefully I will get a look at the full issue because the preview pages do nothing for me. Me being a huge fan of Ennis perhaps I am too biased though.

Ken said...

This reminds me of Uncanny X-Men Joe Casey in the somewhat pretentious nature of the teasers and bombastic attitude, and I really think it was a whole month of the teasers that turned me off. I see this and I go "is this going to be as arrogant and self perceived awesome like Poptopia was?"

I do like most of Joe Casey's work but his better stuff has always been the "quieter" works, like Wildcats 3.0, Automatic Kafka and Adventures of Superman

Anonymous said...

I thought it was Bill Clinton, not Jay Leno...

Adam said...

Definitely Leno. Look at the chin and hair. And he talks about "getting his show" back.

Brandon Whaley said...

This something I won't be reading. Its too over-the-top for me. I don't dig hyper-sexualized stuff in general (Casanova is about as far as I'll take that) so I'm probably about as far from this comic's target audience as you can get. Which is fine. But I can think of many, many other books I'd rather spend my money on.

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