Punks: The Comic – Summer Special #1
finally lands after several months of anticipation, an early recommendation by Warren Ellis, and much praise lavished on Kody Chamberlain’s unique collage art. It tells a loosely constructed story of four roommates – Fist, Skull, Abe, and Dog – who thwart an alien invasion in between fighting amongst themselves. Chamberlain depicts the entire story in collage, with a stark visual style influenced by punk rock fliers and album covers. Joshua Fialkov’s story crackles with sight gags and absurdist humor.
But, the script, while funny, would not work without Chamberlain’s madcap, painstakingly-rendered collage art. Fist punching the airborne Dog’s crotch only works because the former can’t speak with dialogue balloons. Having a fist for a head and, hence, no mouth to speak of, he holds up signs. In this case, he holds up one that says, simply, “Crotch punch!” While that example sounds crass enough – in tandem with the rest of the story’s sense of humor – it exhibits the comic’s greatest strength: its awareness of its own presentation. Punks never feels like one of those old photo-novels from the 1970s, where still pictures with dialogue balloons tell a straight story. Rather, Chamberlain creates a vivid collage world – one that seems to occupy the imaginary spaces between album covers and concert fliers seen on college campuses and in dive bars during punk’s heyday. Using bits and pieces of who-knows-what, glue, and an X-Acto knife, he has painstakingly assembled a chaotic visual delight. Fialkov’s script explores and celebrates the absurd visuals, as Abe – Abraham Lincoln in a leather jacket – explains the complicated logistics of living on after one’s assassination. With regular pencil-and-ink art, the story would strike the reader as random and non sequitur. With their unique visual style, it feels more akin to a story hilariously shoehorned into a visual world with no inherent narrative. I don’t know which came first with Punks, the script or the art. But, if you want to experience its brand of humor firsthand, paste a few pictures from newspapers and magazines together. Then, write a story on top of it. The results will surprise you.