- Paperback: 424 pages
- Publisher: Image Comics (March 20, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 160706510X
- ISBN-13: 978-1607065104
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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King City Paperback – March 20, 2012
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Top customer reviews
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.
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
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.
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.