Monkeys with Machineguns #1: Making Deals With Devils
Posted: Tuesday, August 29, 2006
By: Steve Saville
Creator(s): Chris Lynch, Stu.art And Mark Smith
Publishers: Smash Comics/Open Book Press (Self Published)
Monkeys with Machineguns #1 is an exciting new title that contains four separate stories unified by a common general theme. In this first edition that theme is the notion of making deals with devils. This British horror anthology is a well produced little gem of a comic. The pairing of Stu Art’s dark and often grotesque art with the twisted storylines of Lynch is very effective and makes for a very satisfying if unsettling read.
This edition kicks off with Left Behind and initially this seems to be a story of a jilted lover as we observe the despair of a man left heartbroken and confused by the sudden departure of his loved one. It is only when he follows her cat in the hope that it will lead him to her that the story takes a more sinister turn. Lynche’s writing is very reminiscent of Roald Dahl at his most macabre. The skill is in the sudden, gruesome twist that turns the reader around with narrative punch that they never saw coming. Another noticeable aspect of Lynche’s writing throughout Monkeys with Machineguns #1 is his mastery of dialogue. Short, direct and realistic he has pruned his writing back to the bare bones without losing the ability to create believable characters through his careful choice of words
I am not sure that the whole talking animal thing is entirely convincing but there is no doubting the careful and well managed structure inherent in this opening tale. Stu Art’s art is a perfect compliment to this tale of horror. It is bold and definite with a heavy use of black that adds a definite sense of gloom. The very angular style gives a visual sharpness and adds to the tenseness that Lynche’s narrative sets up so well.
The title of the second story 30 Pieces should clue in anyone who has even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jesus Christ’s final hours.
This tale places a Jesus look alike in a modern London cab being pursued by skeletal Roman legionnaires. The art work here is not as bold but nevertheless it still works well with Lynche’s intriguing storyline. The ending is a little rushed and it is easy to miss the whole ‘who is Judas’ issue, so I advise readers just to slow down on the final page. The real highpoint of this story however is the cab driver character, a thoroughly believable rogue, the evil glint in his eye warns us early on that there is more to him than is initially apparent.
The most successful story though is the third titled The Exchange again this is an example of the story with a twist. We are led to believe that we are reading a story about a real estate sale when the reality is far less wholesome. In this story the art work splendidly works to unsettle and warn us. The grotesque caricatures, desolate expressions and graphic close ups of eating all work towards unnerving us, we know all is not well but we are just not sure what the truth is.
The fourth story is a prose chapter of an ongoing Victorian tale. Well written but I couldn’t help feeling it would have made a damned good comic. The only real concern I have is the cover. The art work is great but the muted colours and layout design that verges on the cluttered means that I fear this commendable comic could get lost on the shelves of many a comic book store. Overall then this is the kind of comic that makes you snigger in a maniacal way to yourself as you read it. Delightfully disturbed.
In a Word: Confident.
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