Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fear, My Dear: That sounds like a bizarre Dr. Seuss rhyme

Full disclosure: this review might have some mercenary motives.

Fear, My Dear
By Dean Haspiel

The second part of Dean Haspiel's Billy Dogma trilogy is complete (you can read it here), and it continues the story begun in Immortal (which was serialized in the miniseries Brawl, as well as online), and it's just as enjoyably bizarre and surreal.  This is the kind of comic where I don't really have any idea what's going on, but I still really dig it anyway.  That's probably because Haspiel is an excellent cartoonist, infusing his imagery with energy and expressiveness, and coming up with some truly unique imagery.

The story here, such as it is, involves Billy Dogma, Haspiel's superpowered, philosophical muscleman, embarking on a quest into the desert to confront his inner demons.  After being reunited with his girlfriend, Jane (who also has superpowers), they explore a giant maze, fall into an underground cavern, confront Billy's childhood hero (or is it his father?  Or both?), and end up embarking on a mystical quest to transform a raygun into a weapon of life, rather than death.  It's bizarre as all get-out, and like I said, I don't know if I was able to follow it very well at all, but Haspiel's technique is so arresting and fun to experience, that the strangeness of it all doesn't matter so much.  It helps that he grounds the characters of Billy and Jane through their love for each other, and the wild sex scene (which we read about in narration as they take a journey in the mouth of a whale) that results from their physical lust makes for a nice interlude.

Really, Haspiel seems to be painting straight from his subconscious here, using dream logic to express emotions that are difficult to verbalize.  If I was more educated in philosophy, I might be able to label it as Jungian or something, but I can only say that it seems to draw upon subliminal cues that maybe only Haspiel understands, if anybody does.  

But even if I don't understand much of it, it's a great read, and tons of fun, due to Haspiel's brilliant energy.  Using a yellow and orange color pallette, the images seem to crackle with brightness, as if they are on fire.  And his thick-lined, Kirby-esque dynamism keeps everything moving, using techniques like extreme facial close-ups:

Or bright bursts of action:

It's a blast to read, never allowing the reader to catch their breath and constantly upping the ante with more weirdness.  I feel like my mind struggles to grasp it, but it's some fascinating stuff; I can't look away.  Give it a read, if you dare.

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