Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Thirty One Days Of CCS #25: Kevin Uehlein, Pat Barrett, DW

Pigeon Man #2 and #4, by Pat O'Brien, Zack Poitras (writers) and Pat Barrett. Barrett drew this visceral, disgusting and over-the-top satire of politics, capitalism and the culture that surrounds them. If anyone was up to the job of drawing the adventures of a superhero who combined the aspects of pigeon and man in the most revolting ways possible, it's Barrett. His humor comics have always had that quality of being game for anything, and that's certainly true here. I unfortunately was only able to read the 2nd and 4th issues of the comic, so I can't comment too much on the story. The basics are that the mayor of New York City is kidnapping orphans and grinding them into sausage, and only Pigeon Man and his friend the Commissioner of the police can stop him. Hilariously, the mayor uses the New York Rangers hockey team as his stooges. Pigeon Man himself is a disgusting character, frequently lapsing into heavy drug and alcohol-fueled binges as he does things like go down on a bat. Tucker Carlson gets seduced, various rescue missions are attempted, horrific sausage is consumed, and Pigeon Man's prison-bound daughter wreaks havoc. The comic is a bit of a grind sometimes because it never lets up, making it something of a breathless experience. Still, Barrett's saturated use of color and ability to mix a cartoonish style with realism make the gags work.

Kevin Uehlein's solo project was the immense minicomic Quit Rasslin' Me!, an epic deconstruction and parody of the WWE and pro wrestling in general. Featuring his anthropomorphic characters Disgusting Duck and Dumbass Dog, those two go from "back alley wrestling" to the WWE when the corporation was beset by steroid scandals, sexual harassment claims and being increasingly out of touch with the fans. As ludicrous as the action in this comic is (and it goes way over the top), virtually everything in it is based on something that actually happened. The Duck is chosen to be the new, hot babyface and even gets tabbed as the new champ, since he's cheaper than maintaining the older, Hulk Hogan-like mainstay. The Dog is chosen to be a heel who can reliably take chair shots to the head and get sent through tables, no matter the damage to his body. There's turn after turn here, as an arrogant Duck gets taken down by an Undertaker-like version of the Dog, who then decides to become a born-again Christian. This is a funny, silly comic with appealing, rubbery art that is entertaining in its own right in addition to being a dead-on satire of the WWE's greed and questionable ethics.

KJC 4 is Uehlein's sketchbook collaboration zine, done with the artist DW as well as James Stanton and Dakota McFadzean. Uehlein's bigfoot wackiness and DW's intense mark-making and pattern designs make for a compelling mix, and they do all sorts of things to create a variety of visual experiences. For example, there are pages that are transparencies, laid over a paper page. The drawings on the transparency interact with the drawings on the page in interesting ways, deliberately adding new details and contexts for them. In the middle of the comic, there's a stapled-in micro mini that features Uehlein-designed characters talking, only their word balloons contain DW's patterned drawings that feature strange animals and fossils in the middle. There are also occasional comic strips with interjections from DW that contribute to the dense glee of this project.

Compulse 10 and an untitled mini from DW round out the comics here. Compulse is Uehlein's micro-mini sketchbook project, and this edition focuses on a female character with various hairstyles in profile. Uehlein really has a knack for drawing angry cartoon degenerates. DW's zine has more of his current interest: circular designs that resemble mandalas, containing a bird, a lizard or some other creature in its center. He alternates between black & white and color, with the former looking bolder and the latter more visually appealing. They almost look like cave drawings or some kind of ancient image that's been long buried.

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