Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Chances are you haven’t heard of this book. It’s a one-shot from Sam Humphries (Fraggle Rock) and Steven Sanders (S.W.O.R.D.) and it’s the sort of independent comic you should support – if you can stomach it. It’s a strange little standalone tale that looks at a warped future of sexuality and one riot cop’s journey to a new understanding of how it all works. It’s equal parts shocking and hilarious and the kind of out there thinking comics can do best. Hit the jump to see why this book is a great investment of your time and money.
Our Love Is Real
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Steven Sanders
“Five years after the AIDS vaccine…”
And thus the tale begins. Our antagonist (I refuse to use the term ‘hero’) riot cop, Jok introduces himself by exclaiming that he enjoys the riots. One would think he enjoys them specifically because they involve the vegisexual movement. Vegisexual’s experiment with growing plants, making them something a little more, and then engaging in sexual congress with them. Jok looks down on this sort of deviant behaviour because he’s a zoosexual. His kind only form loving relationships with animals. He even sports a dog paw print on the shoulder of his armour to show his allegiance. It appears making the beast with two backs with an actual beast is the preferred choice of relief because they are at least animals, anything else is anything less.
That paragraph should give you an idea of what sort of book we’re dealing with here. This is a tale with sexuality at its heart, and love on its mind. You could call this a warped retro-hyper-bizarro romance story. With plenty of jaw smashing violence.
Humphries writes this book so sparsely and yet he builds an entire world, a caste system of sexuality, and a lead who undergoes a fair degree of emotional upheaval. The tale is a concept and the concept is engaging. It’s fun, but in the sort of way you almost don’t want to admit. This is school boy humour taken to the level of an intellectual’s deconstruction. Within just one issue, all comes full circle. Humphries makes you care, makes you cringe, and then makes you…well, I think you’ll all feel something a little different at the conclusion.
Then there’s Sanders’ art. I’ve been a massive fan of Sanders since his S.W.O.R.D. days and he brings the same level of game to this book. For months, he’s been dropping designs on his site but not saying what they were for. They were great there but absolutely gorgeous here. This book ranges from quality world building in scope and depth to almost torturous levels of violence and then sweet moments of confusion and some blend of puppy love and enlightenment.
Jok meets a mineralsexual (a person who gets down with crystals) and it flips his world around. He suddenly has feelings he can’t punch and he can’t even use a little horizontal time to get it out of his system. And, yes, we see the horizontal time. With his dog. It’s a surprisingly sad panel, and through the conclusions you have to draw just of panel, and the outfit the dog wears, it's almost heartbreaking in a strange way most won't be used to. All I can still see is the look on Chyna's face. Be damned if Sanders doesn’t make that dog look so incredibly sad that she can’t please her man. His mind is elsewhere.
It’s a testament to these two gents that they’ve taken a puerile idea and breathed a true sense of story into it. Jok makes a move, a play that only confuses him more, and the outcome is a sad stereotype. The world might be different but the man is just the same. He uses his aggression, his might, to try to fix the wrongs in his world, the wrongs in himself. It’s not a solution and he figures that out quickly.
The switch and change of the end comes fast but it works as a perfect flip balance to the final denouement, the punchline of the entire book. It’s simple but it’s satisfying. It’s nice to see two creators who have dabbled in the mainstream still get the time and desire to put out something like this. It makes me think of the times other creators have put something out that went against the trend, that said something a little personal and a little uncomfortable.
Verdict – Buy It. This is a comic you don’t get often, and that’s exactly why you need to strike and support this book. But in the end, it’s good as well. The art is superb and the writing is tight. I love a good one-shot to invest in because there’s no further commitment. You can spot it easily on the shelf because it's a different size, more like those Archaia books. Get in on this one and expand your horizons; it’ll break the boredom of the Big Two.