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King City Paperback – March 20, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
It's hard to summarize the plot, not because it it's all that hard to explain, but rather because the plot is really secondary to the wonderfully chaotic city it's set in, the surprisingly well-developed characters and the ever-present puns and word play.
A very short summary is Joe is a catmaster robbing, stealing and grifting his way through King City, a chaotic future city where aliens, mutants, zombie war vets and ninjas share the streets.
But as I said, the plot is almost beside the point, this is a book whose real strength is in the characters and setting. Writer-artist Brandon Graham gives each page more love and attention than some artists give a whole book. They are jam-packed with details, in-jokes, puns and flair. This is a book you have to reread just to catch all the subtle things you missed the first time.
Despite the surreal setting the characters are well-grounded and feel like people you know. Yes, even the guy who uses his cat as a weapon, even Xombie War vet, all of them have strong realistic personalities. Graham's style is a bit cartoony but all of the characters look distinct and realistic. The only one close that I can think of is Katsuhiro (Akira) Otomo, Graham's King City at times feels like Otomo's Mega Tokyo on acid.
This is really a delightful book and at just $20 a total steal. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for something new and cool in American comics.
Be warned: King City is overlaid with way-out science fiction. Think Pynchon, Delaney, or Warren Ellis in Transmetropolitan. A suspension of disbelief is absolutely required.
On the other hand, it's not at all serious. Puns run rampant, and Graham has scattered so widely through the art that you have to go through two or three times to catch them all.
Put on a top hat, a trilby, and a wool cap, hold on to them all, and then start reading
The world Brandon Graham creates is so wholly unique and the "powers" of the main protagonists so odd that you can't help but turn the page just to see what the heck is going to happen. I admit a certain reservation as I started reading. It takes a little while to readjust your suspension of disbelief past the normal level one approaches comics with. However, once the world captures you, you just want to learn more about it. What are the laws? What are the rules? What the hell is everyone doing?
The humor is at times subtle, and often very direct but not in a "here's the joke you laugh now" way. Graham presents weird and awkward situations with panache. A scene early on in the graphic novel has the main character using a cat as a periscope with the eye hole being the, umm, cats bum... Normally I find sophomoric attempts like this stale at best, and plain stupid. But there's something about the presentation, the drawings, the situation leading up, the world itself where I couldn't help but laugh.
Graham has created something simultaneously new, irreverent, and intriguing.
The ending of King City felt a little too open ended, but it left me wanting more, and that as far as I'm concerned is a sign of a good tale.
At it's heart King City is a story about Joe, the Catmaster and his friends, Pete and Anna. Joe has recently returned to King City after journeys 'down south' and now needs to figure out where he fits into the place he had spent his youth. In the process he gets involved in a gang of human/owl hybrids, fights an avatar of the elder gods, laments over his ex, ogles every nice ass that passes in front of his eyes and adventures with his fellow 'catmasters.' There is an arc of fighting the ultimate evil and battling addiction of a drug that literal consumes ones body, but these aren't really important. The book really about the characters, letting you glimpse at three unique lives and their interrelationship.
At the heart of the book there are the beautiful lines of Mr. Graham. He has a style that while reminiscent of manga stays uniquely his own. His characters express a wide range of emotion, every page is packed with detailed backgrounds and for the careful reader there is sometimes more text in the background than in the world bubbles. He forces the reader to study each page ensuring you are maximizing your experience. Each panel that Mr. Graham draws is a story unto itself.
You find yourself wanting to know as much as you can about the crazy buildings and lumbering background characters. There are just glimpses of Echhhh Zu: Baby Eater of Shadowtown with its lair of white gold baby souls or corn cult looking to rule the world. Lines like, "The cat doesn't believe the the dark art of Popsicle," or " ... mudd astral projected himself through the back of a camel," make you want to detour out of the story you are locked into and dive down a different rabbit hole. Even after all this you still get to enjoy the hand drawn board game and the connect-the-dots puzzle.
There is so much packed into this book that it would be impossible to capture in a short review. King City is a unique and fresh story. If you want to see what the comic medium is capable of, or you just want to read 500 pages of imagination gone wild, you need to read this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The big draw is the artwork which is highly creative and detailed.