(Frankie Nowhere / Erika Lane / Sonny Joe Harlan / Alan King / Jamie Vayda)
Published by Birdcage Bottom Books, Loud Comix 1 is a collection of “tales of glory, humiliation, terror, and the abnormal” written by a group of leading lights from the Southern Punk Rock scene: Sonny Joe Harlan (Murder Junkies, Shitcan Dirtbag, The Sonny Joe Harlan Band), Frankie Nowhere (The Chumps, Eastside Suicides, Faster Disasters, Flash Boys), Erika Lane (DISAPpointed PARents, Early Graves, KILLZALL, The Stovebolts) and Alan King (Hellstomper, Polecat Boogie Revival, The Beer Drinking Christians).
Besides being drawn by the great Jamie Vayda, what all of the four stories included in this 32 page, black and white collection share is a true Southern Gothic sensibility. These aren't polite tales of Southern gentility, the kind you tell your grandmother over your second helping of biscuits and gravy. Rather, these are the kind of accounts you would get if you fed Flannery O'Connor sixteen hash brownies. If Tennessee Williams had ever been on a week long meth binge, he might have penned one of these. William Faulkner might have contributed on the last day of a three month bender. You know, those kind of stories.
There is something sinister here. The characters are grotesques. Each tale cradles a misfit who stands outside the norm wailing their own particular song into a night filled with the smell of moonshine and the hiss-rattle of the cicada as the kudzu threatens to envelop everything.
It's pretty Punk Rock.
Sonny Joe Harlan's Mr. Breeze starts this collection and sets the tone quickly. Here we get a sense of how hard it can be to sing the Karaoke and make the drunk ladies fawn. Let's just say that it involves a “dude's animal eyes” and the very real threat of violence.
Frankie Nowhere's The Rise of Billy Bloodlust continues the theme. It opens with the line, “Billy's a good dude, and in this life, shit happens. Billy found that out the hard way.” Here, “mushrooms from Hawaii that will 'blow your wig back'” sign up Billy for a “Buddy Holly Manson Family Stab-A-Thon” that has to be seen to be believed.
Johnny Funhouse by Erika Lane is one of those stories that can only take place in the Deep South, as it takes those kinds of folk to play out this kind of tale. It's a kindly story about a misshapen freak who (as they say in the movie trailers) may just end up stealing your heart.
Rounding out the collection is Alan King's Wooden Leg which just may be the best story in this book. Any story that begins, “I've heard it said that it takes a great amount of determination and intestinal fortitude to be a full-time alcoholic” is destined to be one of those great Southern Gothic tales.
Needless to say that as we begin our descent into the madness that is the holiday season, Loud Comix 1 may just provide you with the step back and reassessment you deserve.