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King City Paperback – March 20, 2012
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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.Read more ›
I really enjoy his graffiti-inspired style and meticulous attention to detail. King City is like taking one of Graham's typical shorter stories and just multiplying it by 10. You get ten times the great art and a longer story line, but you also get 10 times the puns and one-liners, which just started to annoy me about half way through. I thought the concept and story had so much potential but the plot felt poorly developed to me. There were a handful of disjointed "major events" interspersed through a backdrop of the character backgrounds, small time jobs, and just random hanging out. The setting of King City was awesome, and I loved how there was a mix of all different possible inhabitants from humans, to aliens, to mutants, animals and everything in between.
Overall I thought the book was above average and as usual I got a kick out of Graham's artwork. The setting was great, and there was good character development. But with the constant puns and lack of an engaging plot, I found this book difficult to read at times.
His world-building in King City reminds me of China Mieville's constructions in books like The Scar and Perdido Street Station. Around each corner is something new and fantastic and probably horrifying too. Where Mieville leans toward the weighty, the eldritch, Graham's world is irreverent and bursting with stupid, hilarious puns, and all this is richer because we actually get to see it. His lines are clean and intricate in the service of a hyper-detailed world, and his characters get the same level of attention.
The Catmaster Joe and his friends get a deep look over the course of the book's stories, individual motivations rarely entirely parallel but crisscrossing instead. Don't read King City hoping for a revelatory, world-shattering conclusion: Graham snips the story to a strange, nonchalant close as casually as he introduces ancient gods and cults and then tosses them into the background.
Pick this book up for a refreshing dose of the weird that takes the piss out of all the bland crap in mainstream comics right now. And check out Graham's blog at royalboiler.wordpress.com for more once you're hooked.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had no idea what to expect and was blown away accordingly. Really lovely art meshed with really poignant/funny writing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by JBats
Really eclectic and bizarre, a must-read for anyone who wishes to get into alternative comics. The art is flush with detail and style, and brandon graham's writing, though rather... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kat Nipz
A brilliant work. The narrative doesn't plod forward in a straight line, but hops skillfully between the present and past of each character, building up a more compelling and... Read morePublished 13 months ago by GearHead
awesome art and full of little puns and details that will add so much more in posterior reads.Published 13 months ago by Helder Silva
great book to have around and in your collection. a fun book to read from time to time.Published 14 months ago by Mr. EggRolls
Amusing, light, character-driven story. Not intended for those that need plot-driven action.
The big draw is the artwork which is highly creative and detailed.
Brandon Graham is one of the most exciting creators in comics today. He's so good! It did take me a second attempt before I really fell in love with this book, but I plan on... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Josh