FU King City
July 19, 2012 6:48 PM   Subscribe

I go under the streets, under train tunnels, sub-basements and sub-sub-basements. I go deep.
You should be reading King City, a recently re-published comic by Brandon Graham, a former porn artist. The story of a man and his drug powered cat, it's a smorgasbord of science fiction; a pureed blend of Japanese, European, and North American alternative comic styles. An interview with Graham on sexual context, and another on the ego of a comic artist.
posted by special agent conrad uno (18 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
King City is great. As is Graham's work on the relaunched Prophet at Image.

I've got some weird feelings about Prophet though. The book is great, but it has (thankfully) almost nothing to do with Rob Liefeld's original run. Graham's totally revamped the concept, which was Liefeld's Image rehash of his Shatterstar character at Marvel. But it's still Liefeld's book as the "creator" of this property, and Graham is just work for hire. Isn't that what Image was created to stop? If they though Graham was awesome (he is) and they wanted to work with him, why not let him start his own sci-fi property which he could own instead of relaunching yet another book the Liefeld started and didn't do anything worthwhile with?
posted by thecjm at 7:40 PM on July 19, 2012

Oh, I just recently read some of his Prophet stuff, and was super-impressed by it! I'll have to check out King City. Thanks!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:42 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Prophet is pretty much the best and most nuts SF comic there is right now that isn't 2000ad.
posted by Artw at 7:45 PM on July 19, 2012

and his drug powered cat

That's the first explanation for our cat's behavior that makes any sense.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:48 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, man! Have they finally published the trade? King City is brilliant!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:10 PM on July 19, 2012

This looks very good. More than (or at least, in addition to) a blend of Japanese, European, and North American styles, I see a lot of graffiti influence in this. Anyone know if the artist has any of that in his background?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:27 PM on July 19, 2012

Artw: "Prophet is pretty much the best and most nuts SF comic there is right now that isn't 2000ad"

posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:28 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, lots of graffiti influence. In the second linked interview, he talks a lot about growing up doing graffiti on the streets of Seattle, and then later in New York. I'm pretty sure I've seen his stuff in Seattle; the reason I (randomly) purchased this book a few days ago was because I felt like recognized the style. I finished King City today, and started researching it because it was so fucking good, and realized "Oh, that's probably where I've seen this art before."

I'm going to get into Prophet, next.

Oh, and since I'm commenting already on my own post, I'm going to throw out my favorite line from that first linked interview. In regards to a statement about the consistency of how women are sexualized in contemporary superhero comics:

BG: Yeah I think that's the big problem. It's like, ok dudes, we've tended to your boners since the dawn of time. Can someone else have a turn?
posted by special agent conrad uno at 9:55 PM on July 19, 2012

His blog is brilliant. Lots of "this is what I'm working on, and here's some neat illustrator or cartoonist I just found out about."

Anyone know when Prophet comes out in trade?
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:38 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Depending on how sensitive you are, there might be some spoilery stuff in this.

It's a good comic. I like his style, clear, detailed, and, if it wears its influences on its sleeve, it also combines them into something unique and entertaining. I do have a couple of gripes:

1. He needs to work on his long-form narrative. The multiple plot lines don't really have a rhythm; he apparently just switches back and forth as the mood strikes him. The resolution also seemed super-swift to me, like he basically just decided to wrap it up rather than take another issue or two to finish the story (although I'll accept the argument that the "cosmic story" isn't the real story). On the other hand, plenty of good comics have this problem (the first 10 or so issues of Sandman don't make much of a whole with the rest of the series, for example), and, unless I miss something, this is the longest thing he's done (and changed publishers in mid-stream), so this isn't so significant.

2. It's very guy-focused. Which is, you know, pretty standard for a comic, but this one almost gets away from it, then falls back into the trap. All of the female characters are defined by their relations to one or more male characters, and, although the story avoids some pitfalls (at least one of the plot lines developed very differently than I expected, and the protagonist ends the story more "sadder but wiser" than "nerd fulfilled"), it still comes across as something by a guy for guys, which is too bad. This is a complaint that's been leveled against Scott Pilgrim, and I mostly like Scott Pilgrim, so maybe I am making too much of this.

3. There are some rape jokes hidden in the margins that undercut the fun for me. It's like he was riffing on a whole series of puns and was not watching where he was going with them. It's kept me from recommending the comic to some people, which is sad.

Now that I have said all that., a couple of things I liked:

1. The cat is pretty awesome.

2. All the little details are mostly fun and playful, and it makes re-reading it a pleasure.

3. There are a couple of "relationship scenes" -- characters dealing with exs, someone in love with a drug user -- where it seemed really natural; little bits of character in an otherwise absurd plot.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think I've heard that the first Prophet trade is going to happen after there's six issues out.

I am a little conflicted on Prophet, as thecjm points out - it's a little weird to see Graham and these other indy creators who're handling the art doing work-for-hire like this. I can only hope that the contracts are written less… maliciously… than DC/Marvel ones, and that the ones Image will hand to them for solo books are fair.

But then again there is also a part of me that is like HEY HERE'S SOME FUN SF ON THE SHELVES; I mean, the fact that Graham's working on Prophet has me going into the local comic store regularly, which is something I gave up years ago. And here's something from a major publisher that's getting a lot of critical acclaim that I am ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN READING. I can't remember the last time that happened. Ever.

Then again Graham basically got me as a fan when I picked up an early issue of King City on a whim and recognized Czu on a coffee mug. Namecheck of one of my biggest influences? OKAY I'M INTERESTED NOW.
posted by egypturnash at 1:28 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh also and here's a link to his porn comic Perverts of the Unknown [NSFW] courtesy of his twitter.
posted by egypturnash at 1:35 PM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Brandon Graham and James Stokoe are basically saving comics right now. I mean, Clowes, Crumb, et al. have their secure legacies and New Yorker crossover audiences, but these are the guys holding it down on comic book store racks, oases in a crossover-and-reboot-strewn desert of traced-from-porn banality. Their influences are all over the map (you can spend all day trainspotting the weird manga references), but what comes out of that blender is just singular in its exhilarating newness.
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 8:03 PM on July 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

An interview with Brandon Graham:
It discusses some of the craft of comicbooking, and some influences.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:31 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

3. There are a couple of "relationship scenes" -- characters dealing with exs, someone in love with a drug user -- where it seemed really natural; little bits of character in an otherwise absurd plot.


If Joe had just followed the basic plot of kill the Demon King, get the girl, it would have tidily resolved the conflict set up once the monster was introduced.

But Joe wouldn't have grown as a person.

Instead, by going and saving Anna's boyfriend, he grows up as a person.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:40 AM on July 21, 2012

Folk who like Brandon Graham may like Dowman Sayman (道満晴明).

Extraordinarily tight little stories which often play games with the tropes of generic manga and generic storywriting.

NSFW: his work generally has sex in it, but sort of as an afterthought, he's not writing this for folk to beat off to.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:45 AM on July 21, 2012

Reading KING CITY now. It's fantastic. Very glad to have this collected having missed it the first time round.
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

...also I like that the KING CITY book looks like something that would come from the King City universe.
posted by Artw at 10:05 AM on July 30, 2012

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