Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you're given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!
We continue with Day 9, which is A Comic That Totally Blew Your Mind
Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!
I think that the only way that I can ever really get my mind blown by a comic is if I went into the reading with absolutely NO expectations. Books that surprised me like New Frontier and Scalped #4 (I was not a huge fan of the first three issues of Scalped but then #4 came out and I Loved it from that point on) still gave me a solid idea of what to expect before I started reading them.
So I am choosing a great comic that I knew nothing about before reading...
Blammo #5 was a full-color issue of Noah Van Sciver's Blammo series. Each issue of Blammo consists of a series of short stories on a variety of topics. With such an eclectic mix of stories, it is extremely impressive to note just how many of the stories Van Sciver completely nails. This is a great collection of offbeat tales and the production values on the book are top notch (which is a real testament to Kilgore Comics, the Denver comic book store - check them out here - that produced the comic for Van Sciver).
Here's the cover for the issue, which was the first one that I read (you can click to enlarge it - it's a BIG image)...
The book opens with a letters page with some heady praise for Van Sciver from some big name folks like Gary Groth, Chris Staros and Peter Bagge.
These are the chicken-like characters that Van Sciver has been drawing for years now. They are pretty weird, but I like them - their little tale is completely surreal, but in a good way. They're accosted by a police officer, so to get away, they turn into pieces of abstract art, leaving the officer to state, "Hey, I don't understand...is this...is this art? I could've sworn that I was talking to two gentlemen...Damn. Well, I guess I'll go home. I've gotta stop drinking. It's hard to stop when you're constantly losing in life...I've still gotta sign those divorce papers."
That out-of-nowhere dark humor is a hallmark of Blammo, and I really enjoyed it.
That darkness is very notable in a story about a man who runs into an old high school crush and, well, that would be giving things away, now wouldn't it?
There is another very clever story about a haunted mansion in Colorado. The mansion really does exist (look up Croke/Patterson/Campbell Haunted Mansion on Google), and Van Sciver initially delivers a well-written historical accounting of the history of the mansion (with strong depictions of both the mansion itself as well as the spooky events, which included two guard dogs throwing themselves out of a third story window late at night) and then he goes off on a less-than-historical tangent.
But Van Sciver isn't only concerned with the fantastical - he also delivers an impressive look at the surreal nature of riding a bus across the country, especially in the more desolate areas. If you ever wondered what it was like going on a long bus ride through rural New Mexico, Van Sciver will show you what's what, and he'll let you know why it's not the most pleasant experience in the world.
All said and done, I suppose "surreal" would be the best word to describe the stories in Blammo, whether it be "Steve, the World's Fastest Balding Man," or a tale of what kind of trouble you can get into with a time machine but the stories are also well-written and drawn well.
I didn't know what to expect when I first read Blammo and the end result was a really great comic from a cartoonist who I now read whenever I can (his book about Abraham Lincoln early battles with depression, The Hypo, was one of my Top Ten Comics of 2012).
Check out Noah's website here.
Oh, and his older brother is famed comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver. Maybe that blew your mind a little bit?