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The Orange Won’t Peel | Wrong side of town

lizard laughed

The Lizard Laughed | Noah Van Sciver | Oily Comics 

I know. That cover dresses this comic to look like some sad indie operation, stuck in a certain decade, but in all actuality, the clouds and slump are just Noah Van Sciver’s will toward shamed characters and the aesthetics they occupy. The Lizard Laughed presents us with a tired scenario (damaged relationship between a father and son), yet takes it and moves onto the thought of healing, or more particularly, living with the wound. Which is ultimately way more interesting because it delivers something unresolved.

I love that the son, Nathan, wears an REM shirt and sports some patchy white-man beard, looking like any random dude caught at an emo-revival show. The appearance delivers the character without having him open his mouth. He’s a child pretending to be a man, and his actions in the story – contemplating the murder of his father – only cement his place, maybe forever.

It may be easy to pin Nathan that way, though. Certainly he’s suffered some sort of trauma, what with dad walking out, leaving mom to die. He’s clearly not a villain. And it’s not if the father, Harvey, skews much farther from his spawn.  He’s essentially the same manchild – long-haired, smoking weed – except he’s someone who’s learned to accept their lot in life and wouldn’t consider murder as if the act will fix anything. And that’s the difference between the two, though I wouldn’t say either is sound and secure.

Van Sciver’s line work or general style is still off-putting. That’s purely subjective, but it’s more toward the busy end of a knotty spectrum – like someone drug a fountain pen across a bumpy, ceramic desk. I always prefer something simple, with a whip of air behind it. It’s traditional in an alternative comix sense, too, and that may limit the reach of some of his stories by manufacturing certain expectations, like those I allude to in the first paragraph.

But it’s arguable that such a crude aesthetic emphasizes the depth of Van Sciver’s storytelling, and that its abrupt discovery leaves a reader in a position where they have to investigate the narrative, even though their first glance would suggest not to. Which is fun to consider, because such a pairing gives that aesthetic a little extra something, stretching it so it may hold and offer more than the obvious. In The Lizard Laughed, it’s really the reason Van Sciver’s character design works so well. The aesthetic is a piece of the human puzzle.

APR140595

Sex #14 | Joe Casey, Piotr Kowalski, Chris Peterson  | Image Comics 

In the letters page this very issue, Joe Casey tells us it’ll all come together, and I want to believe him, but I don’t. Granted, I’ve skipped issues, but reading the share I have, I still do not know what Sex is. I’m simply reading a fanatic write what comes to mind, slapping down the subplots and writing in whatever direction that presents itself. And as a follow up to Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker, what else could this be but an entertaining, yet frustrating case of titillation?

What I’ve learned reading Sex is that Casey is confident of his dialogue. This series whacks us with character after character, and the only way we allow Casey to commit such violent whiplash against us if that these figures can talk their way out of a box. They walk toward us enigmatic – especially in motivation – yet their presence on the page, and the hints they drop through direct disclosure or interaction, seed the interest to keep flirting with them. His lines are sharp, sounding with a crack, and even though these characters’ general demeanors may be sinister, you just want to hang out with them, light cigarettes and fuck with whatever they lay down.

Cha-Cha and Dolph are the prime examples this issue. Criminals, they murder and fuck for nothing but indulgence, yet with lines like “I can taste the blood on my tongue. We should’ve done this months ago.” you don’t mind. Because the lines are so cutesy and flamboyant that they shape the duo into a charming set of tuxedos, and the splattered blood just looks like party attire.

Plot never mattered to this comic. Sex is a vehicle for Casey to write scenes with an array of characters, all within one, busy set of covers, just to see what happens. And that’s likely all Sex will be; it’s masturbation without the cumshot. Which is the exact opposite of what we’d expect from someone like Joe Casey, and while that’s frustrating, it’s also alluring – it’s watching someone flaunt skin in way you’d not expect.

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Next week, I fire Rick Remender and take back the night. See you in 7. 

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