April 3, 2014

Review -- LOUD COMIX #3

Loud Comix #3

(Eric Perfect / Christian Maes  Alan King/ / Joel Rivers / Erika Lane / Jamie Vayda)
4 stars
Three is a potent and powerful number in the fictions we create to make sense of the world. Our lexicon leans heavily on allusions to triads and three strikes and third times being charming. Threes are holy and lucky and sometimes the last chance. While the second installment gets darker, the third act provides redemption – think Empire Strikes Backfollowed by Return of the Jedi.
So, Loud Comix is now on its third issue and, after stumbling a bit in their second outing Loud Comix #3 returns to form by thematically focusing the anthology on a Southern Gothic understanding of addiction. See, in the South there's your basic drug addiction, but things get sweatier down there too, they're into all sorts of weirdness. There's that hunger for pleasure in ways that people who ain't from the South just can't grok, no matter how much Carson McCullers they read.
Pleasure is addictive, and, in the South, people are willing to debase themselves in ungodly ways in order to suck from that pipe. In this issue, Jamie Vayda and his cast of Southern Punk luminaries explore and explore and explore their relationship with pleasure in a slow, drunken drawl that seriously requires a hard back-beat and a soft guitar.

The best story in Loud Comix #3 is, hands down, Alan King's "The Time I Shit My Pants at a Motorhead Show" which is all about the price you pay for overindulgence and overstepping the limits you've set for yourself. The interplay between King's words and Vayda's art is like the sound of a really great rhythm section backing some kind of mondo wonk hillbilly jam. All you really need to know about the narrative is contained in the title, but this thing steps larger than the strides of a colossus, encompassing the dichotomy that undulates between teenage uncertainty and their sense of immortality; the addiction to possibility features large. A pretty amazing piece of business, it's the hook that will keep you in a state of high anticipation for the rest of the show.
Eric Perfect's "Cocaine Fueled" next funnels the thin line between creativity and abuse. When former addicts talk about their habit, there is always this wistfulness that exists in the telling, even when the story licks the sweaty floor of paranoia and near-death experience. Vayda's hard use of small details washed in a cartoon madness pulsates with everything wrong with this form of dependency; its whimsy masks the horror and, by doing so, viscerally reveals it.
Then Joel Rivers talks tits in "Satan's Fantastic Knockers" and the lengths boys will go to and the mistakes and embarrassment and uncertainty they foster. For teenage boys, breasts lactate the milk of manhood while reducing them to fools, and it is the smart girl, according to Rivers, masters "the art of weaponizing her assets." Once again, like an addict, the hero of the story makes foolish, boastful choices that lead him on an odyssey of pathos in order to sip from a grail which will never touch his lips. You've been there boys. You understand this journey.
Erika Lane provides a couple of pieces that are palette cleansers. Her "Roxie and Molly" whore gags are kind of the flat cracker between courses. They serve their purpose, but as they have no flavor, they are easily forgotten.
Will Loud Comix #3 ever make the list of recommended reading for feminists or NA meetings?
In order to dance to the tune Vayda and friends are playing here, you got to get into the groove of the moment. This ain't politics. These are Southern Fried tales of young men trying to figure out their place in among gentility and genitalia, concerts and cocaine. It ain't easy growing up in unpredictable circumstances. It's even harder when you're driven by whatever hunger it is that consumes you.
Loud Comix #3 is available through Birdcage Bottom Books.

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