Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here's the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's Afrodisiac, which was released this week from AdHouse Books!
Afrodisiac first appeared in an issue of Street Angel, and since then, Rugg and Maruca have featured the character in a few other places. The basic gist of Afrodisiac is that he is a riff on blaxploitation characters - a pimp who is basically a superhero.
The Afrodisiac graphic novel that came out this week is written as though it is a collection of Afrodisiac's "greatest hits," as Rugg adopts different art styles to depict various points in Afrodisiac's apocryphal history.
Rugg and Maruca do a marvelous job of coming up with interesting stories set in each different time period, which is especially noteworthy considering the fact that "a superhero pimp" does not necessarily adapt itself well to all genres. But then again, that juxtaposition is often the basis for the humor, so I suppose it all evens out.
While the stories are fun (I especially dig the little touches of having Afrodisiac's origin change every time a story is told), the clear star of the book is Rugg's artwork.
Here is a sample story from the book...
Throughout the book, Rugg adopts different styles and manages to make them more than just "hey look, I'm drawing like late 60s' Steranko!" and instead actually have them serve the story. For instance, at one point in the book, there's an ad for Afrodisiac toys (as an homage to the action figure ads that appeared in late 1980s comics), but the ad actually delivers exposition about the various characters in the comic.
In addition, most of the stories work on their own level and not just as parodies of old school comic books. There's a particularly impressive tale where Death (who, naturally, has fallen in love with Afrodisiac) allows Afrodisiac to re-live the day he is murdered until he comes up with a way to stop his own murder (Groundhog Day style).
So even if the stories weren't great, this book would be worth it just as a "Jim Rugg art book," but luckily, the stories by Rugg and Maruca are strong, as well.
Now give me some more Street Angel, Jim and Brian, please!