Hey. Remember these?
Lo, many years ago, in the forgotten year of 2007 A.D., this blog had a daily column called “365 Reasons to Love Comics,” in which I expounded on the wonder of many creators, characters, concepts, and other bits and bobs that made comics great. Unfortunately, I came up short. By the end of the year, due to various life-y things getting in the way, that 365 was more like 349 or so. At last, the day has come to finish off the list. (Don’t expect a regular schedule. To look back on previous episodes of this column, check out the archive!)
First up: the sensational character find of 2010! He’ll chop your head off.
241. Axe Cop
Axe Cop might just be the most perfect comic ever made, and I’ll tell you why: it’s written by a six-year-old boy. Last year, Malachai Nicolle was your average imaginiative, exuberant five-year-old kid, but when his 29-year-old cartoonist brother, Ethan (creator of Chumble Spuzz), found Malachai playing a game of “Axe Cop,” a legend was born. Transforming his kid brother’s ideas into a comic book narrative, Ethan took Axe Cop to the wilds of the internet, where it quickly exploded in popularity. Having debuted in January, it’s already become a darling of the webcomics world, and it’s easy to see why. I’m calling it right now– move aside, Atomic Robo! Axe Cop is the raddest comic of 2010!
So what’s Axe Cop about? It’s about the titular character (birth name: Axey Smartist) and his never-ending mission to kill all the bad guys. Along the way, he encounters a host of bizarre allies and enemies, including: his long-lost brother, Flute Cop (birth name: Flute Cop), who later transforms into Dinosaur Soldier, and even later an anthropomorphic avocado named Avocado Soldier with a magical wish-granting unicorn horn; his pet T-Rex, Wexter; Sockarang, a superhero with socks for arms; Uni-Man, an old fella with a unicorn horn, and Uni-Baby; a pair of vampire ninja wizard brothers from the moon (one of whom is also a werewolf); evil snowmen; Telescope Gun Cop; Bad Santa (not Billy Bob Thornton); Baby Man, a man in a baby suit; The Best Fairy Ever, who can go in your nose and punch your brain out; a half vampire man, half vampire baby, half vampire kid in the middle; and a whole bunch more, including Pretzel Head, the man who can turn his head into a pretzel!
The writing process generally involves Ethan quizzing Malachai as to the various characters and events that occur within Axe Cop’s world, and smoothing everything down into a narrative. You can watch an example of an Axe Cop creative conference here. Also, separate from the regular ongoing episodes is the Ask Axe Cop feature, in which readers send in questions to the character, answered by Malachai, and drawn up by Ethan. My favorite one’s at the top of this post, but this one’s pretty good, too:
From the various episodes and answered questions, the Nicolles’ audience has learned a lot about Axe Cop. For instance: at night he dresses like a cat and punches bad guys to death in their sleep; his favorite food is birthday cake with a candle of himself on it; he became a cop at a free sign-up; he can determine if someone is good or evil by watching their front kick technique; he has defeated Chuck Norris in combat; and, if something bites you, you turn into that thing, no matter what it is– it’s science.
The reason Axe Cop might be a perfect comic is because of the unbridled imagination on display. There’s no pretension, no subtext, no irony, grim, or grit, just pure ideas and excitement. The plot follows dreamlike child logic, dependent on what one boy thinks is totally awesome. Who knows “awesome” better than a kid? The story is absurd and often hilarious, but the strip plays it completely straight. Ethan’s brilliant cartooning gives the comic all the energy of the six-year-old spinning the tale, and that’s what makes it truly great. This is comics, my friends, at their purest and most magical. Axe Cop is some kind of Platonic ideal, somehow made real. From a child’s brain to your screen.
One doesn’t just read Axe Cop– one experiences it, and maybe, just maybe, transports back to those bygone days when one was a child and comics were magical. With each comic I read, I hope to recapture the sense of wonder I had as a boy. With Axe Cop, I’ve managed to do just that. There’s a delightful earnestness to it, and for Malachai to have someone in his life developing and rewarding his creativity, well… he’s the luckiest six-year-old in the world.
I brought back 365 Reasons specifically to sing the glories of Axe Cop, and I think it’s totally worth it. Go, hit up the website, read the comic, buy a shirt, donate to Malachai’s college fund, and mourn for the day this kid discovers girls. Meanwhile, though, let’s all enjoy the ride.