By Dean Haspiel
Writer, inker, publisher, and comix godfather, Jimmy Palmiotti invited the curators of TRIP CITY to contribute to CREATOR OWNED HEROES #7 and we scored some rave reviews. COH7 boasts great talent, comix, essays and profiles by Steve Niles, Justin Gray, Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stewart, Scott Morse, Jimmy Palmiotti, Paul Mounts, Jerry Lando, Chris Irving, Steve Bunche, Bill Tortolini, Katelan Foisy, Evan Dorkin, and more, including our very own Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz, Jeffrey Burandt and Dean Haspiel. Check out what some of the critics had to say about COMPLEX: Luv_Underscores_U, and BLOOD + BRAINS.
“Complex: Luv’s_Underscore’s_U” Written by: Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz, and Dean Haspiel, Photocomix by: Seth Kushner: I’m not going to describe this story because words aren’t enough. You have to pick up this book to see for yourself this compelling, thought-provoking, innovative short.”
“Photo-comic COMPLEX: “Luv_Underscore’s_U” by Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz, and Dean Haspiel reminds us that the comics medium is expansive, varied, and should never feel too comfortable. Katelan Foisy and Miskiewicz star in this futuristic psychological landscape where the solid realities of the photo images help readers keep a grip on the otherwise shifting definitions of reality in the narrative. There’s a subtle ambiguity in the nature and future of technology, it’s use and misuse to contribute to human experience, and on the whole the photo-comic not only tells the reader but shows the reader the spell-like suspension of disbelief comics, in the right hands, are still capable of creating.”
The final sequential story in the book is “Complex” written by Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz & Dean Haspiel with photocomix by Kushner featuring Katelan Foisy as well as the aforementioned Miskiewicz as models. “Complex” is the name of the overarching work, while this particular segment is called “Luv_Underscore’s_U”. Both of those names are appropriate for the story, but “Complex” especially.
“Complex” is hard to pin down, Foisy is Jasmine Bendory, a reporter assigned to interview VJ Quid, a VJ who appears to play floating computer image music things. VJ stood for “Video Jockey” in the halcyon days of Downtown Julie Brown, but it doesn’t seem that VJ Quid is standing in front of a camera shouting about Billy Idol, so it probably means something else in this context. It’s a sci-fi comic though at the same time I feel like the ideas being talked about in “Complex” are probably a lot closer to reality than I’m aware of since I barely spend any amount of time in reality as it is and when I am present I’m not looking up tech enhancements. I’m usually just picking up my Wednesday haul at Comics and More.
“Complex” flits through genres, as quickly as it moves, making you wonder if this is actually a science fiction story, or an erotic one, or a fame parable or a character study. It’s all of those things and it accomplishes them in a very small amount of time, and though the work itself is short you can tell that a lot of work and love went into it. It’s a comic that challenges your perceptions not only of the high minded ideas being bandied about, but also your perceptions of what comics should look like. Photocomix are not an easy sell and it’s because it’s so difficult to get them right, to avoid making something that looks like it was thrown together for Wizard Magazine (RIP) filler. You need to have models who can capture the range of emotions demanded by the authors without appearing to be trying too hard and Foisy and Miskiewicz nail it effortlessly. An enticing introduction to a story I hope to see more of soon.
“Then we have zombies. The subject-matter is in danger of being done into the ground in the TV, film, and comics medium, but in keeping with the challenges set by COH #7, Dean Haspiel and Jeffrey Burandt deliver something readers have simply never seen before, imploding any expectation of the familiar. Haspiel’s zombie artwork avoids the basic emphasis on blood and gore flooding zombie media these days and emphasizes, in a visceral way, the disjointedness of decomposition through trailing limbs and chunks of missing anatomy. This makes Haspiel and Burandt’s heroine seem all that much more solid, active, and vital as she spikes a zombie noggin and blasts through zombie brains. This is zombie-storytelling streamlined to basic psychological elements: loneliness, companionship, and, finally, the pulse-poundingly unexpected that makes the genre so popular. “Blood and Brains” retools zombie narrative by removing excess accretion and celebrating its potential in creator-owned style.”
“Blood and Brains by: Jeffrey Burandt Art by: Dean Haspiel: A zombie comic, but not in the traditional sense. It’s a pleasant, short comic about a lone woman who is hungry in the zombie world. She fights off a group of zombies, and receives help from another survivor. The twist in the end of this short I never saw coming.”
“Jeff Burandt and Dean Haspiel deftly prove something that I’ve been saying for awhile now regarding genre stories in popular culture, and that is we’re not out of zombie tales. Just like we’re not out of ghost stories or vampire stories or slumber party massacre stories (see Psycho Sleepover if you don’t believe me). Smart storytelling can bring new life into any convention, walking dead included. And that is what “Blood + Brains” delivers, smart storytelling and new life, however fleeting into a trope that constantly seems to be on it’s last, undead legs.”