Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Comic Review: Students of the Unusual Giant-Sized Music Special #1



This will be a bit of an unusual review, as I'm covering both a comic book, and its accompanying CD. The comic came out several months ago, but it takes me a lot longer to feel comfortable commenting on a musical compilation than a comic book, as evidenced by this being only the second track-by-track Audio Neurotic Fixation on this blog. I'd really love to do more, but the time consumption and my anxiety get in the way of more.

Students of the Unusual Giant-Sized Music Special #1 (3 Boys Productions, $2.95) I've been reading comics long enough to have owned my fair share of "Power Records" and "Flexidiscs," so I'm well versed on their highs and lows. Typically, you have a professional quality publication combined with "Amateur Hour" or a quaint radio drama throwback. This would be the rare exception of the comic being amateur hour, and the cd being-- well, also amateur hour. However, the comic is drunken Japanese businessmen performing karaoke of the Ratt musical catalogue, while the CD is closer to a solid Fantagraphics anthology.

Someone clearly has a good deal of money to flush down the toilet, as the comic is published in full color on 48 pages of heavy, high glass stock. Marvel weeps for the disparity between their printing and this. The back cover credits www.gxcomics.com. These guys rule the school. The trouble doesn't start until you actually try to read those pages.

For starters, despite that "number one" on the cover, this is not the first SOTU book, presumably will not be he last, and I assure you this is not to the benefit of mankind. The first "story" chronicles the funeral of a character that I guess played a role in previous editions, but was introduced to me through a four page illustrated bar gag of grade school aspirations. From there its pages and pages of cryptic dialogue, nonexistent characters, vague subplots, and a wealth of meaningless conflict that ends in a cliffhanger at page 21. Whatever it took to make them stop, I'm all for it. Awful writing and art that looks like layouts.

Next up is "Recalcitrant Jones and the Deadbeats," the subject of numerous songs on the CD. The obvious reason is that Trent's backing band is made up of undead rock superstars (including the obligatory Elvis.) This is not a bad premise, and the five pages of stylish magazine quality illustration make it seem like an obvious lead story. However, this as the first were "written" by Terry Cronin! Emphasis his, in the Eliot S! Maggin tradition, but a talent for scripting the men do not share.

"Sulfer Water!!!" followed, again by Cronin!, and the closest he came to the writing credit being anything but a technical distinction. I should point out all magazine contents were copywritten to Cronin!, so I assume he's the one with a very lucrative drug trafficking operation/filthy rich uncle/etc. Again, this me feels like a set-up for future tales, but the art's solid and the story has an ending of a sort.

"The Flame of Faith Part 3" was yet again by Cronin!, with five pages of decent art, and made it very clear there will be a part four that no one unrelated to Cronin! will ever want to read.

"Gone Tiki" was 6 pages that thanks to a merciful god were not scripted by anyone with an exclamation point in their name. That doesn't make it good, but it has a beginning and comes to some sort of resolution without making me contemplate suicide. The art, on the other hand, seemed to be provided by a dual amputee drawing with the pen firmly atop his ear.

The final theoretical story was "Awake/The Escape/Life." What's that you say? For six pages, that sounds awfully pretentious? You know it baby, and based on absolutely no merit whatsoever! Well okay, the coloring was okay.

Also, there was a pin-up of the same zombie biker from the cover and cliffhanger on the back page. The art would be about the best feature of the issue, but what makes it truly fantastic is that it in no way involved the production of another script. Sweet Jesus Palmomina!

Alright folks, enough with the very bad and often ugly... tomorrow* we cover the CD!

* "Tomorrow" meaning an hour-and-a-half after today's post, so you'll likely have read it already...

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