Were Money No Object on March 7th
by James Fulton on March 7, 2012

It’s all about unusual visions of the future this week, with two different books with ‘City’ in the title.

The Books I Think You Should Buy:

Compleat Terminal City

by Dean Motter and Michael Lark; Dark Horse, $24.99

Dean Motter is usually best known for his work on Mister X, but since that series was a little before my time (well, actually, just a little too indie for where I was at the time it came out), I discovered him through Terminal City.  After so many years, I don’t really remember it’s plot, but I do remember the strong design sense and visual aesthetic that permeated the book, and I remember that I enjoyed it.

Motter’s the king of the retro-future genre, where people live in an Art Deco version of the Jetson’s world.  There are both flying cars and dirigibles, and gangsters dress in zoot suits while their women still dress like Al Capone’s molls.  There are robots, but they are big and clunky.  It’s a very cool look.

These days, Michael Lark is known for comics art that is close to artists like Alex Maleev or David Aja, but in this series, he used a more cartoonish approach, making his work look not that dissimilar from Dean Motter’s.

This collection brings together both of the Terminal City mini-series that were published back in the day by Vertigo, and is worth checking out.  Thinking about it now, I kind of want to read it again.

King City

by Brandon Graham; Image, $19.99

If you’re not on the Brandon Graham bandwagon yet, now is the time to hop on.  He’s gaining a lot of respect in mainstream circles for the wild writing he’s bringing to the recent relaunch of Rob Liefeld’s Prophet (best comic being published today), but he’s been an independent darling for some years now, with his King City being his masterpiece to date.

King City has a complicated publishing history.  The first volume came out as an original North American manga from Tokyopop, before that company imploded and cancelled the title (along with Becky Cloonan’s East Coast Rising).  It looked like King City was never going to be published, until Image brokered some kind of deal with Tokyopop and Graham to republish the first volume, and complete the story, this time as a ten-issue limited series in Image’s ‘Golden Age’ oversized format.

King City showcases all of Graham’s strengths as a writer and cartoonist.  It’s about a Cat Master, who returns to the titular city after many years absence.  He’s accompanied by his cat, which, when given the correct injection, can use a variety of special abilities.  There is a lot of wild stuff going on in this series.  The Cat Master reconnects with his old girlfriend, whose current boyfriend is slowly turning into chalk because of a drug that he takes.  The Master’s best friend is in love with an alien sex slave, and is determined to rescue her.  There is some owl-based organization that is doing dirt, and the city is regularly attacked by giant monsters.  Lots more happens too – it’s been a while since I read this, and what stuck with me most is the sense of fun and Graham’s awesome visuals.

Graham is an unique artist.  His style embraces elements of artists like Moebius, Geof Darrow, Gahan Wilson, and his contemporaries James Stokoe and Corey Lewis.  He has a love for puns and wordplay, and fills the page with little jokes and visual asides.  There really haven’t been many comics like King City, and I envy anyone who gets to read it for the first time as a complete work.  Highly recommended.

So, what would you buy Were Money No Object?



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