Blammo #5 is 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 (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.
Speaking of Bagge, while I know Van Sciver was not necessarily influenced by Bagge's style, I find their styles very similar, which is great for me, as I am a big Bagge fan.
Here's the only high quality sample page I could find of the issue out there...
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, the tales in this tome are quite surreal (even the real life stuff is surreal).
But the stories are also well-written and drawn well.
Definitely worth the five bucks it'll cost! Get a copy here.
Check out Noah's website here.
As a final note, if I ever had the complete set of Blammo comics, I would feature it for a Year of Cool Comics. Just putting that out there.