This is the first volume of three by Brandon Graham, who I'm familiar with from Elevator*, a collection of short comics. I was actually pretty excited to pick this one up…which is rare lately. I missed out at first because of long, busy lines, and ended up needing to head into four stores before finding it again weeks later. But the man’s an unabashed fan of comics, and it’s always refreshing to read something where you can tell that through the work itself.
He’s got a lively graffiti-influenced style that gives off its energy without getting cluttered. Graham clearly puts down tries out every idea he comes up with—and not all in this comic, mind you. These are the ideas with legs, one presumes. And like the best outlandish ideas in the better rung of sci-fi out there, being a Catmaster isn’t Joe’s only role and Max is just drug-user (Chalk is great, by the by). Despite the energetic style, what Graham actually excels at seems to be quiet moments...probably not coincidentally the ones readers might relate to, as opposed to how you talk to your weapon cat. Unless you have a weapon cat. “Fun” as a tone seems to come first, but comedy and a little bit of something else comes out too, and without quite the attendant melodrama that tone switches bring in similarly marketed manga.**
I’m not sure the style is suitable for everything (the Cthulu-esque terror looks a bit bouncier than swollen), nothing slumps enough for every mood to be pulled off equally well, if that makes sense. And not all the crazy notions carry equal weight either, the sasquatch really seems to be there to be a sasquatch. So the wonder of it is, will the setting cohere into something more repository of Brandon Graham's ideas? As long as the characters continue to grow inside it, I can wait and see.
* I’d like a Sumo Hero to cameo…
** Still, the fact that manga ever switches moods is more interesting to me right now than a lot of other work.