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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maniac Killer Strikes Again! Richard Sala. Fantagraphics Books. (2003)

This superb collection of stories by Richard Sala contains a a wide variety of stories featuring disappointed love, horrible experiments in re-animation and plastic surgery, multiple deaths and the blackest humour that is never brutal. Richard Sala has a very distinctive visual style that in less talented hands could overwhelm the story. The writing is quite equal to the art and the combination of the two is wonderful and striking.
The ideas are strong and effective, the art amplifies them and makes some short stories seem longer due to the sheer volume compressed into the spaces. The ideas are usually savage and have a very film noir mood of loss and despair. The angular artwork and the typically grotesque faces of the cast add to the atmosphere. Equally matters are prevented from slipping into the realms of the dispiriting by the same factors, the highly stylised art underscores the unreality of the actions. There is a strong flavour of old black and white horror films populated by mad scientists and monsters in the collection, a gleeful gruesomeness that is playful rather than horrifying.
The words are sharp and pungent, the captions and dialogue are as distinctive as the art. The descriptions and narrations are overwrought and wonderfully literary in a way that is most unusual in comics. Richard Sala clearly likes words, there is a great relish in the way that they are used in the stories. These are truly independent comics, bursting with snarky, self-confident creativity, a pleasure.

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