From Publishers Weekly
Eschewing the more quotidian pursuits of such contemporary comics anthologies as Kramer's Ergot
is as subtle as a poke in the eye, of which there are several. With an aesthetic reminiscent of Blab!
and the lowbrow art movement, it's a brutal journey into a world of low-class grifters, fatal car crashes and neighbors who suggest inappropriate sex acts. Disturbing sexual imagery is pervasive, as in editor Head's Oozing Dread! a perfervid story with Wilhelm Reich and his orgone machines at the center. While the ongoing mood is frantic, doomed squalor, the talent assembled is impressive and the cartooning vigor gives the subject matter some humanity. R. Sikoryak supplies a retelling of Dorian Gray in a spot-on pastiche of Winsor McCay; Carol Swain imagines a plague of books; and Mary Fleener vividly recalls a bad trip on angel dust with cubist-inspired imagery. Tim Lane presents a number of short tales that manage to infuse the gloom with a bit of narrative heft in a few pages. Although Sin City
is profanely parodied in Hotwire
, readers who enjoyed that tale's melodramatic violence will find much more of the same here. (Feb.)
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Editor Head is back with a second collection of attitude-laden comic strips about barflies, druggies, sex-addicts, slackers, and other lowlifes. The most in-your-face entries come from such bad boys—and girls—as Tim Lane, whose two stories center on bizarre barroom encounters; Mary Fleener, who reminisces about a date with a drug dealer, during which she sampled a dangerous diversity of his wares; Craig Yoe, who updates the notorious 1920s and 1930s pornographic comics called Tijuana bibles; and Head himself, who contributes a sexually frustrated 1950s housewife’s encounter with controversial orgone box inventor Wilhelm Reich. As before, the artier contributors make the strongest impressions: Carol Swain’s surreal take on the death of the book and R. Sikoryak’s impeccable retelling of Dorian Gray in the style of Little Nemo. Should there be a third Hotwire volume, here’s hoping Head challenges the highbrow “artistes” to get down and dirty with strips truer to the project’s vulgarity-embracing premise, and the lowbrow ones to attempt work that is more formally ambitious while retaining Hotwire’s willful offensiveness. --Gordon Flagg