Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Screamin' Genitals, Martha, My Pants Are on Fire!

Let us pause for a moment and reflect upon the joyness which is Jhonen Vasquez. His wit is the sandpaper on the tender skin of the people toward whom it is directed, it's mean spirited and often petty, always articulate and original, and is pretty much my favorite under-ten-buck thrill.

So now there's Jellyfist, his new project with an illustrator named J.R. Goldberg whose own major hootie-ha appears to be this book, thus far. There is a series of frames on a series of pages, much like the comic books of old, except this is the first one that I've read that has commentary. I love reading Mr. Vasquez dancing verbally (I like to think it's like Pigpen from Charlie Brown) around Ms. Goldberg, only to have her swat him away like an annoying fly every ten paragraphs. He DO like to talk a lot and she apparently does not, at least to her audience. Goldberg also has an enormous flair for the grotesque, a point that will be addressed later in this post.

I have to give Jellyfist a thumbs up for a few things (and do not continue from here if you don't want spoilers):

1. The She-Car: A talking car that turns out to be a real woman who was transformed into a car by a weird guy who can ostensibly turn people into machinery that he can use. Another illustrator probably would have turned her into a robot lady. Cool looking, but ultimately cliché and boring. Goldberg makes her look truly...painful. The body of the car looks like a huge, pale, squishy meat plug with wheels. It lacks the shades of wry that would suck the "fucked" out of the up that is the She-Car. Also, as the car-out-of-woman maker drives her around, she can only look down at the pavement passing beneath her. It reminded me of "Gummo" in the slimy way it made me feel. A+, J. Goldberg.

2. Lesssseee....oh yeah, ha ha, bees in a guy's head. It's very strange and freaky and reminded me of a movie called "Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees". Bee heads are one of those archetypal things I don't understand, so they're fun to watch.

3. I love the landscapes in this. The characters are usually out in the middle of a post-apocalyptic kind of place with ice-cream cones and the like. I was watching Bugs Bunny with a kid the other day when she turned to me and said, "Where does he keep getting those carrots?" I'm like, "Dunno..." This is kinda like that.

The problems are few: It is colored in the manner of easter baskets and grandma dresses. Everything (in retrospect) seemed too mintily green. Secondly, the surrealism is often cut off at the knees by the Vasquez' self-congratulatory narrative about his creative process. Again, fun reading but ultimately distracting and pulled me out of vibe.

Two cents. It is what it is, yo.